Talented apprentice awarded best in region

Photo caption: Gateshead College student Daniel Gowland and his college tutor Brett McClain 

A talented apprentice has beaten hundreds of others to be recognised as the best plumber in the North East.

Daniel Gowland, an apprentice at Mears and Gateshead College, has been recognised by the Newcastle branch of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) for his hard work and expertise in his field.  

The prestigious JB Wilkinson Shield, which was established in 1913 by the Master of The Worshipful Company of Plumbers, recognises outstanding apprentices as well as outstanding teaching. Both Daniel and Gateshead College were presented with the two part award by Erica Stary, current Master of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers, which works closely with the CIPHE.

Daniel who is 27 and from Gateshead, started a career in civil engineering, before deciding to follow his childhood ambition to join the plumbing industry. He said: “I have always wanted to be a plumber after watching my dad work in the industry. He would teach me how to do certain tasks when I was really young and I always really admired the work he did. Now thanks to Gateshead College and Mears I can work in a job that I enjoy while training to qualify.

“The award is also a fantastic accolade to put on my CV as well as a great confidence boost. It was a surprise to hear I had won. My college tutor put me forward so it was really assuring to know that they believe in me and that I have great support from them.”

Daniel studies at the college’s Skills Academy for Construction one day a week while working for Mears Gateshead Housing as part of the team responsible for undertaking repairs and maintenance on around 20,000 Gateshead Housing Company properties within the Borough of Gateshead.

The JB Wilkinson shield is awarded following the assessment of the nominee’s portfolio, which includes written and photographic evidence of their work and understanding of plumbing and heating. Each regional branch, in this case Newcastle, collects and assesses the information ahead of the regional awards.

Following the regional win, which included a cash prize, tools and industry books, Daniel  is now set to be put forward for the national awards, which are being judged in November, with winners invited to the House of Commons for a special luncheon.

The JB Wilkinson Shield for the best plumbing college 2016 award marks the fourth Gateshead College student to collect the accolade in its 103 year history, with wins in 2014, 1936 and 1931.

Erica Stary, who attended Gateshead College to present them with the two part award, said: “The JB Wilkinson Shield is a long standing prestigious award which recognises the best individuals and education providers in the industry.

“We look for high quality teaching and those with a fantastic learning portfolio, which were both met by Daniel and Gateshead College once again. The college’s dedication to the industry and preparing the next generation of experts is outstanding.”

Chris Toon, deputy principal at Gateshead College, adds: “The award is a great achievement for Daniel and a fantastic recognition for the college. We are delighted to be awarded the J.B Wilkinson Shield for the second time in recent years, and fourth time since the awards were launched. It is testament to the hard work of Daniel and our teaching staff.”