Magnificent seven strike a chord in music triumph

They were among more than 700 of the UK’s most talented apprentices, employees and learners who battled it out in 70 competitions to be named ‘best in the UK’ in their chosen field  

The Gateshead College students triumphed in the Popular Music category, wowing judges with tracks from hit artists Christina Aguilera and Florence Welch, lead singer of indie rock band Florence and the Machine.

Sarah Martin, 18, Houghton-le-Spring, said: “It was a nerve-wracking experience playing in a 14,500-seater arena and I’m so proud to have come through it. I’ve always had a passion for music and maybe one day I can turn my hobby into a day job.

“My Gateshead College course has given me a good grounding to pursue a career in the industry and my success in this competition will be a great addition on my CV.”

The students are all studying for a Level 3 in Popular Music – one of many music courses at Gateshead College. The courses are structured so that students can gain skills in a wide range of areas such as performance, creativity and technical know-how.

They are also taught general business skills that will give them the commercial acumen to launch their own music venture or to impress potential employers.

Phil Richardson, music teacher at Gateshead College, said: “These seven students have done remarkably well to win a gold medal in the face of so much competition. They have the talent to emulate some of our former students who are now forging successful careers as professional singers, musicians and producers.”

The seven students were also given a ringing endorsement by Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock, who has given his backing to the WorldSkills UK initiative.

He said: “Congratulations to all of this year’s winners. Skills are vital to the future of our country and it’s great to see so many talented young people taking part and demonstrating their expertise.

“I hope today’s winners will inspire others to begin learning a new skill which could lead to a new career and then to become the stars of tomorrow.”