Talented stonemason Toby Brook was part of a winning UK team at EuroSkills 2016 – the largest skills competition in Europe.
The 22-strong UK team won four gold medals, one silver and three bronze, following three days of top-level competitions.
Toby, from Wells, did his apprenticeship at Wells Cathedral Stonemasons and attended Bath College as a student. He is now working full-time at Wells Cathedral Stonemasons.
He earned his place on the UK team after winning highly commended in the 2015 WorldSkills UK competition and was the only stonemason from Britain competing at EuroSkills 2016.
The 20-year-old said: “It was a brilliant experience under intense pressure and has set me up to try and secure a place on the team competing at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi in October 2017.
“I would say any young person who is doing an apprenticeship in any trade to try out competitions like this, as it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Toby went to the House of Commons for the UK send-off and received the UK enamel team badge. He then flew out to Gothenburg, Sweden, for the competition on December 1 and had the time of his life taking part in the competitors’ parade at a huge opening ceremony.
Over 70,000 spectators visited the Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre to watch this year’s EuroSkills Competition and see 500 young people from 28 different countries compete.
Toby has spent over a year training for the competition and had to produce a piece of stonework from scratch, designing templates and sorting out all the angles before any carving could begin.
He was placed under intense pressure, with the competition judges watching closely to make sure competitors were using their tools correctly and safely.
Although Toby didn’t win a medal, he saw teammates collect medals for landscape gardening, games design, welding, floristry, mechatronics and cooking.
For the UK team, this was its best performance at a EuroSkills Competition placing it as ninth out of 28 in the overall medal table.
Ryan Brunt, from Wells Cathedral Stonemasons, said: “When Toby first arrived with us at the age of 16, he was unsure which trade to follow, I’m glad to say he made the right decision.
“He’s grown in to a mature and pleasant individual, and is a natural in stonemasonry. We are proud of what he has achieved in EuroSkills and will support him in any future competitions.”
Daisy Walsh, Head of Technology at Bath College, said: “Toby finished studying with us in 2015 and we have been following his progress with great interest ever since.
“We are extremely proud of how he has continued to develop as a stonemason and are delighted that his time at Bath College has stood him in good stead and enabled him to forge a career as a craftsman in such a specialised area.”
Dr Neil Bentley is CEO of WorldSkills UK which oversees the UK’s regional and national competitions, as well as Team UK’s selection and preparation.
He said: “We are overjoyed – our best ever performance. This competition is a microcosm of how the UK is doing against economies across Europe. You can see us competing cheek by jowl against the French, the Dutch, the Germans, the Scandinavians and others.
“The pressure that these people are under is ensuring that they compete at an international standard, and it’s crucial for the economy and business that they perform at that level.”
Toby would like to say thank you to everyone at Wells Cathedral Stonemasons, Bath College, WorldSkills UK, architectural stonemason expert trainer Kevin Calpin and all his friends, family and fellow competitors for their support.