Future garden landscaper Aaron Byrne has proved his talent by taking a bronze medal in the WorldSkills UK finals.

Aaron, 17, who is studying for his Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horticulture with us, took on the challenge in front of thousands of visitors to The Skills Show, Birmingham, last week.

The demanding three day competition, run by the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) aims to identify and nurture potential team members for WorldSkills, an Olympic-style global final which showcases the world’s top young talent in vocational industries.

Aaron and six other young landscapers had to demonstrate that their technical skills in block paving, decking construction and plant placement were at the highest level. Those who achieve a set level of marks will join a long listed talent squad who will be prepared for selection for WorldSkills 2019, to be held in Russia.

Aaron, from Northwich, a former Weaverham High School pupil, said: “This was a real challenge against very strong competition but it was a great opportunity for me to show off the technical skills and knowledge I’ve gained from my course at Reaseheath. The competition was very hard work but definitely worth it. The judges’ feedback was really useful and I’m looking forward to doing more training.”

Jody Lidgard, APL technical lead and trainer, commented: “We have a lot of young talent moving up through the ranks and producing work to a good, professional standard. This is very pleasing as we are putting all our efforts into standardising and improving the skills coming into the industry. This competition gives us a fantastic opportunity to showcase the skills of our future landscapers and to prove what a rewarding career lies ahead for them.”

Hopefully Aaron will follow in the footsteps of former Level 3 student Matt Beesley from Winsford, who was a member of the Team UK WorldSkills squad in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2015 and successfully brought home a silver medal – Britain’s first ever medal in garden landscaping.

Another ex-horticulture student, Richard Carden from Tattenhall, has become a WorldSkills UK Champion after successfully competing in the national finals in 2014. He has joined a growing network of inspiring young professionals who are now working in the industry.

The Skills Show is the nation’s largest skills, apprenticeships and careers event and attracts nearly 80,000 visitors. WorldSkills UK held 59 national finals at the show, ranging from engineering and technology to hospitality and IT.

Sponsors of the WorldSkills landscaping competition were Makita UK (power tools), Marshalls (paving supplies), J A Jones (plants) and Jewsons (landscaping supplies and products).

Top picture caption: The seven WorldSkills UK landscaping finalists are joined by the APL judging team and representatives of sponsors Makita