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Student builders breeze through skills contest

(left to right) Stephen Urwin, Jimmy Stobbart and Jordan King

Two Sunderland College students have been crowned the best brickies in a regional skills challenge.

Construction students Jordan King and Stephen Urwin won first and second place in the North East Inter-Colleges Bricklaying Competition, held at New College Durham.

The contest involved students from four colleges who were tasked with a complex bricklaying challenge which had to be completed in five hours.

Jordan is an apprentice with Bewick Building Services and is studying a level 2 NVQ and level 2 diploma in bricklaying at Sunderland College as part of his apprenticeship.

The 23-year-old, from Roker, placed second in the competition last year, and was delighted to win the top spot this time round.

He said: “I’m thrilled to have won. I tried my best, but you never know who you’re going to be up against – it was great the judges awarded me first place. I’ve worked on building sites since I was 16, so I’ve had a bit of a head start and gained lots of great experience. I’ll be finishing my apprenticeship soon and will continue to work for Bewick Building Services. I’m pleased I’ve gained so many new skills through Sunderland College and will now have the qualifications to back up my practical work.”

Stephen is completing a level 1 diploma in brickwork, and has been offered an apprenticeship with Ian Swansbury Builders, starting in September.

The 17-year-old, from Washington, said: “I was nervous to take part in the competition because I am new to bricklaying and everyone else who took part had more experience, so coming second was overwhelming. The competition was challenging but I thought the quality of my work was to a good standard.

“I struggled at school but I enjoy my college course and I’m excited about starting my apprenticeship with Ian as I know I will learn lots from him.”

Ian, whose family run business is 20 years old, has worked in partnership with Sunderland College to train up bricklayers and joiners since 2000, and Stephen will be the firm’s ninth apprentice.

He added: “Stephen is a naturally gifted bricklayer and is keen to learn. It’s fantastic that he came second in the competition at such a young age. I won the same competition in 1982 and I think it’s very important to let my apprentices take part in it as it’s a great experience for them. I enjoy training up apprentices as they learn my preferred approach to work, and I’ve had an excellent experience with Sunderland College over the years. They are always supportive, their teaching is high quality and they have helped me to recruit some excellent apprentices.”

All construction students are now taught from Sunderland College’s City Campus, which opened at the start of the academic year.

The £29million campus features industry-standard equipment and high quality learning spaces, and is the college’s flagship hub for its professional and technical courses.

Jimmy Stobbart, brickwork lecturer at Sunderland College, said: “Both Jordan and Stephen are model students and their achievements in this competition reflect their hard work and dedication to their studies. They are both highly skilled in bricklaying and I’m certain they will both go on to have successful careers in the construction industry.”

For more information about construction courses, ring 0191 5116000, email info@sunderlandcollege.ac.uk or click here.

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