A stonemasonry apprentice at Bath College has shown he is among the best in the business by securing a top spot in a national skills competition.
Toby Brook won highly commended in the national finals of the 2015 WorldSkills UK competition and has been selected for the WorldSkills UK training squad.
The 19-year-old went head to head with some of the country’s most skilled stonemasons during the three-day competition, held at the Birmingham NEC.
Competitors were given a drawing, asked to produce templates, mark up a stone and carve it by hand following industry standards and specifications.
Toby impressed judges at a competition at Bath College’s Construction Skills Centre and went on to compete in the southern skills heats, which he won.
At the national skills competition, he was chosen to train for the next international WorldSkills competition in Abu Dhabi in 2017.
Stonemasonry lecturer Ray Sumner said staff at the college are proud of Toby, who is just completing his Level 3 apprenticeship.
He said: “Toby was unfortunate not to be in the top three. The points difference between Toby and the winners it was minimal, but he’s been highly commended and he’s been selected to be in the world skills squad.
“To do well in these competitions you have to have the right attitude. You have to be able to problem solve, work within the given time frames and put in a lot of hard work because it’s very tiring.
“Over the three years I have known him he has always been motivated to achieve the highest possible standards possible.
“We expect high standards of work here, but in the competition they have a certain amount of time to reach that high standard.
“In industry they might have to get a job done in two or three days and by training them for these competitions it gives them employability skills.”
Toby is completing his apprenticeship with Wells Cathedral Stonemasons, who will be supporting him with the next stage of his training.
He said: “I did work experience with them and I ended up getting a job. They are very supportive, they trained me up along with the college,
“The competition was hard work. It was quite nerve-racking with the pressure of people watching, but it was very enjoyable at the same time.
“I’m very glad that I entered.”
Simon Armstrong, director at Wells Cathedral Stonemasons, said: “Toby’s done very well and we’re delighted.
“We weren’t surprised, however, since we know how good he is and his inclusion in the UK squad is brilliant. We’ve had squad members and team members before over the last decade, so he’s continuing a sort of tradition.
“The competitions are great for the apprentices. They’re in our workshops working away and sometimes it’s difficult for them to know how good they are, but once they pit themselves against apprentices across the country it shows.
“Toby has proved himself to be one of the best apprentices in the country.”