A PAIR of York College apprentices are celebrating having won medals at the National Finals of the WorldSkills UK Live competition, held at the NEC Birmingham.

James Digger, an apprentice stonemason at York Minster, demonstrated outstanding skills during the competition and was awarded the gold medal - making him the number one stonemasonry apprentice in the country.

Nathan Jamieson, who works for Barrett Developments, won the silver medal for brickwork.

James and Nathan joined more than 500 apprentices and students competing at the NEC, in excess of 70 different disciplines - each competitor battling to be the best in the UK, with an audience of over 83,000 young people attending the three-day competition.

James, 20, completed his stonemasonry course this summer, and has been an apprentice at York Minster since 2017. He has recently embarked on the Cathedral Workshop Fellowship programme which he will complete in 2021. He said: “I simply wanted to produce good work and make myself proud, and when it was announced that I had won Gold I was pretty shocked! It’s an awesome achievement to put on my CV. I would like to thank York Minster and York College for their continued support throughout my training, and especially Sam Turner (WorldSkills Bronze medallist in 2015), who I work alongside at York Minster and who also trained at York College – he is a fantastic mentor.”

Nathan, 23, also worked incredibly hard to compete in the national competition, especially having sustained an injury at the start of the year.

He said: “When it popped up on the screen that I had won silver, I started shaking - it took a while for me to realise it means second best bricklayer in the country.” His tutor Mike Burdett, who is also the World Skills Training Manager for brickwork, is extremely proud of his success: "Winning a silver medal at the national finals is a huge achievement. Nathan has beaten hundreds of competitors on his journey to the final. His commitment to training is testament to his will to compete, and it is great to see his rewards after witnessing the hours of preparation he put in to his training.”

Both James and Nathan have praised their employers for allowing them the flexibility to carry out their training for the competition, without which they say their success would not have been possible. They are both now focusing on training for the WorldSkills national squad selection.

Rob Holmes, head of construction at York College is extremely proud of both apprentices: “To have two York College apprentices in the national finals, and for them both to return with medals, is absolutely outstanding. James and Nathan have demonstrated enormous dedication to their respective construction crafts and they are a credit to themselves, the college and their employers.”