Brush with success for Blackburn apprentice decorator in Crown Trade competition

Crown Paints has awarded the prestigious title of ‘Crown Trade Apprentice Decorator of the Year 2012’ to 20 year old Thomas Regan from Blackburn.

Online PR News – 29-September-2012 – UK – Decorative coatings manufacturer Crown Paints has awarded the prestigious title of ‘Crown Trade Apprentice Decorator of the Year 2012’, and presented an impressive trophy and cheque for £1000, to Thomas Regan from Blackburn, a student and apprentice employee of Accrington & Rossendale College.

Twenty year old Thomas was one of eleven talented P&D apprentices and students competing in the 34th national final of Crown’s annual competition, held between 12th and 14th September at Preston College as an integral part of SkillBuild, the UK’s largest construction skills competition.

Each of the eleven decorators had earned their place in the 2012 national final having achieved the highest scores in the country at one of fourteen regional one-day heats held earlier in the year. At Preston College, they were presented with the challenge of planning and completing the decoration of a three-sided booth, following a demanding and detailed design plan. This ‘test piece’ was designed to test the competitors’ craft skills and techniques and their ability to plan out a project meticulously and complete it against the clock.

Thomas impressed the judges with the calm and measured way in which he approached the task, setting out the complex design with absolute accuracy and skilfully completing all aspects of the test piece with time to spare. His scores narrowly beat those of first runner-up Kirk Croft, an 18-year old apprentice employed by KJK Decorating Services, representing South Leicestershire College. In third place was 26-year old Coatbridge decorator Debbie Dunn, an employee of South Lanarkshire Council, and former student of South Lanarkshire College.

Crown Trade’s competition is part of SkillBuild which encourages excellence amongst newcomers to the construction industry and it took place alongside nine other construction-related skills contests, including bricklaying, stonemasonry and wall and floor tiling. The choice of Preston College as the venue for the 2012 final was particularly apt as the Lancashire city is currently celebrating ‘Preston Guild’, an historic celebration of craft skills and trades which dates back to 1179 and which is held only once every twenty years.

The winners of all the individual SkillBuild contests, including Crown’s painting and decorating competition, were revealed at a closing awards ceremony and reception held at Preston Guild Hall on Friday 14 September. This huge event was attended by industry representatives, sponsors and academics, in addition to the SkillBuild finalists and many of their tutors, friends and family members.

Thomas, Kirk and Debbie were all called to the stage to be congratulated and presented with their Crown Trade Apprentice Decorator medals and SkillBuild awards by Crown Paints Marketing Director Liz Hickson and celebrity builder Tommy Walsh, a longstanding supporter of the SkillBuild competition. Thomas also received his trophy and £1000 prize. Kirk and Debbie will also receive cash prizes of £500 and £250 respectively.

Thomas said he was absolutely delighted to have won the competition. “I entered last year and although I won my regional heat, I didn’t score enough marks to reach the national final,” he said. “I was really determined to do better this year and all my efforts paid off.” Tutor Phil Burgess from Accrington & Rossendale College said, “I am thrilled for Thomas, but to be honest, I never had any doubts that he was going to win this time round. He was ‘in the zone’ from start to finish, totally focussed on what needed to be done.”

Crown Trade senior brand manager Debbie Orr said: “It was fantastic to see the final of our competition held in Lancashire this year and a bonus to see a very deserving local apprentice scoop the first prize. All of the finalists proved to be exceptionally talented which made Thomas’s achievement all the more impressive. Although we set our competitors a particularly demanding piece of work to complete, they all rose to the challenge magnificently.”

Pointing to the future, Debbie commented: “As part of SkillBuild, the Crown Trade Apprentice Decorator of the Year competition is a gateway to international skills competitions. We hope that those finalists who meet the required age criteria will build upon their success in our event and take the opportunity to try for selection for WorldSkills in 2013. One of them could find themselves representing their country in Leipzig in just a few months time, competing against the very best young painters and decorators in the world.”

For further information about Crown Trade, please visit For information on Skillbuild, please visit