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A TALENTED apprentice from Dunfermline has clinched a prestigious national title for painters and decorators new to the trade.

Ayla Foulis emerged as the winner of the Crown Trade Apprentice Decorator of the Year competition at a major industry event.

The 24-year-old, a third-year student at Fife College, beat off stiff competition from some of the best up-and-coming talent in the country to land the £1,000 first prize at The Skills Show, held at the NEC in Birmingham.

Ayla works at AG Decorators based in Cowdenbeath.

She said: “The Crown Trade Apprentice Decorator of the Year competition is a real showcase for the industry, so to win the title is a huge feather in my cap.

“It’s a fantastic boost to my confidence and something that will stand me in good stead throughout my career.

“I’m thinking of taking an interior design course in future and want to set up my own business one day, so I think this can be the perfect stepping stone.”

Ayla was one of seven apprentices who came through regional heats across the UK during the annual competition – organised by Crown Trade for the past 37 years as part of its initiative to support the next generation of industry professionals.

Each competitor in the final, held from 17th-19th November 2016, was challenged to complete three complex tasks designed to test the quality of their technique and time management.

Ayla added: “It was difficult as we had to work to very detailed skill drawings and, because that’s where most of the marks are, it had to be perfect.

“I was nervous as there was a big crowd and, though it went well, I couldn’t believe it when I found out I’d won.”

The competition could indeed provide a springboard to even greater things for Ayla as it’s used to talent spot decorators with the potential to represent the UK at the prestigious Worldskills Kazan 2019 in Russia.   

Kevin O’Donnell, Competition Manager at Crown Paints and Crown Trade Apprentice Decorator of the Year coach, said: “This year’s final posed a true test of skills, attention to detail, time management and ability to work under pressure.

“It was a complex project which required a great deal of skill and the standard on show was unbelievable, but Ayla’s ability shone through in the end and she was a worthy winner.”

The Skills Show is an influential training and careers event featuring more than 50 trades-based competitions in which the ‘best of the best’ in each sector battle for the national title.

Debbie Orr, Marketing Manager for Crown Paints, said: “As a business, we do all we can to encourage talent and pride in the trade.

“It is also vital that we attract the next generation of professionals to enter the industry and we do all we can to encourage them to hone their skills to the highest level.

“This competition is an example of that approach as it encourages people to strive for excellence in their craft and reach the highest professional standards, especially as the Crown Trade Apprentice Decorator competition acts as a springboard to the ultimate test of professionalism, Worldskills.

“Every competitor in the final showed just how well they’ve mastered the skills and techniques required and illustrated that the painting and decorating industry has a very bright future.”

A video from the event can be viewed at https://youtu.be/kZ1iDFPYr1M