Nicole Germaine (L) and Elisha Whyte (R) receive their awards at the national PDA Premier Trophy Awards.

A Leeds College of Building student has been named one of the best apprentices in the country after winning a coveted national Painting & Decorating award.

Nicole Germaine, an Equans employee and Leeds College of Building student, was announced the winner of the Senior Apprentice of the Year 2021 category at the glittering Painting and Decorating Association’s (PDA) 32nd Premier Trophy Awards.

Fellow Leeds College of Building apprentice and Bradford Council employee, Elisha Whyte, also won Joint Runner Up in the same category at the award ceremony held at Plaisterers’ Hall in London.

The PDA is the largest trade and employers’ association in the UK painting and decorating industry with members across the country.

The Association’s Premier Trophy Awards, sponsored by Johnstone’s Trade Paint, Purdy Professional Painting Tools and CITB celebrate the highest standards of excellence from across the painting and decorating industry over the past 12 months.

Alongside fellow apprentice Calib Dyson, Nicole and Elisha battled against over 70 other apprentices from across the UK to win their places at the finals. The Northern heat of the competition, held at the Leeds College of Building Painting & Decorating Centre (North Street Campus), tested technical drawing, stenciling, and painting skills before judges Neil Ogilvie, PDA Chief Executive and Andrew Davis, from the Association of Painting Craft Teachers (APCT).

Neil said:
“Huge congratulations to Nicole on this well-deserved award. The quality of work on display was excellent and Nicole, Elisha and Calib all did their employers and college proud on the day.

“The generous continued support of our sponsors allows us to offer these vital opportunities to apprentices in the industry and we are delighted that Nicole was able to join us at Plaisterers’ Hall to receive her award.”

Nicole said:
“I am overwhelmed by the experience and the opportunity to be involved in a national event on this scale. I am so thankful to Leeds College of Building and my tutor Garry for giving me all the support I needed and couldn’t be happier to be the PDA Apprentice of the Year.”

Mark Howroyd, Curriculum Manager at Leeds College of Building, said:
“I’m so proud of our Apprentices and want to congratulate them on their success. The competition is extremely tough given the number of entrants taking part from across the UK and the task itself. Setting out, cutting in, stencilling and painting a given design in just six hours is no mean feat.

“According to the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) Construction Skills Network, there’s more demand than ever for painters and decorators. They forecast that 1,580 new painters and decorators are needed every year until 2022 to meet increasing demand. These exceptional apprentices are helping to fill that skills gap; both Nicole and Elisha have competed their apprenticeship training and are now fully qualified decorators.

“Well done to everyone participating, including industry partners such as Bell Decorating Group Ltd and Bagnalls who were also crowned winners at the ceremony.”

Competition judge, GT May, said:
“Visits started in 2020 and were completed in 2021. It has been a very varied experience for all the judges with the lock down and testing to comply with, but a challenge we overcame. The privilege to be able to look at all the varied and outstanding work was worth the waiting […] The quality of workmanship produced was to a very high standard considering the difficulties that has to be overcome.”