Scotland’s finest plumbing and heating apprentices shine at national competition


Three outstanding apprentices have been named winners at the 49th Scottish Plumbing Apprentice of the Year (SPAY) competition, each taking top honours in the categories of copper, lead, and renewable technologies. The competition, organised by the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers Federation (SNIPEF), showcases the diverse skills and emerging talent within Scotland’s plumbing and heating profession.

Shaun Wilcox, representing Moray College, University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), clinched his second consecutive win in the copper category, building on his success in the lead category in 2023. Jude MacAskill of Inverness College UHI triumphed in the renewable category, and Hubert Parysek from Forth Valley College took top honours in the lead category.

Shaun Wilcox, Scottish Plumbing Apprentice of the Year: Copper Category. Shaun works for Moray Council and attends Moray College (University of the Highlands and Islands). Shaun won the Lead Category at the 2023 Scottish Plumbing Apprentice of the Year competition.

Fiona Hodgson, Chief Executive of SNIPEF, commended all the apprentices who participated, stating, “These achievements not only highlight the remarkable skills of our category winners but also showcase the exceptional talent of all the apprentices. Their success is supported by their respective colleges and employers, which helps to lay a solid foundation for their future careers in the plumbing and heating profession.

“She added, “The addition of a renewable technology category to the competition reflects the updates to our Modern Apprenticeship in Plumbing and Heating, providing apprentices with the essential skills to lead the nation’s transition to sustainable, low-carbon heating systems.”

Now in its 49th year, the SPAY competition was held at South Lanarkshire College in East Kilbride. It features three categories: copper, lead, and renewables. Apprentices are tasked with demonstrating their knowledge and practical skills, from creating intricate copper pipework essential for modern plumbing systems to managing and shaping lead components for use in older buildings and deploying advanced renewable technologies. Notably, the copper category serves as the Scottish qualifier for the SkillPLUMB UK finals, highlighting its importance on a national level.

Hubert Parysek, Scottish Plumbing Apprentice of the Year: Lead Category. Hubert works for Comfort Systems Ltd and attends Forth Valley College.

Neil Collishaw, Chief Executive of BPEC and competition headline sponsor, highlighted the competition’s importance: “The copper category serves as the Scottish qualifying heat for the SkillPLUMB UK finals. Integrating these regional heats into our national competition framework ensures broad attainment of standards across the UK, fosters professional growth, and equips participants for success on both national and international stages. I look forward to seeing the best of all the SkillPLUMB UK-wide competitors at this year’s UK finals in Manchester between 21 and 23 November.”

University of the Highlands and Islands scoop six out of nine top prizes.

The University of the Highlands and Islands achieved remarkable success by securing six of the top nine awards, reinforcing its reputation as a centre of excellence in vocational education and a major contributor to the development of Scotland’s future plumbing and heating professionals.

Jude MacAskill, Scottish Plumbing Apprentice of the Year: Renewable Category. Jude works for R I Cruden and attends Inverness College (University of the Highlands and Islands).

Shaun Wilcox, Shay Ewing, and Ben MacDonald swept the copper category, taking all three prizes. In the renewables category, Jude MacAskill claimed first place, with Sean Davidson taking third, and Liam Marshall earned a second-place prize in the lead category.

Dale Thomson, SNIPEF Training Services Manager and organiser of the competition, praised UHI’s strong performance at this year’s competition, saying, “The University of the Highlands and Islands has consistently demonstrated its commitment to training the next generation of plumbing and heating professionals at its colleges in Moray, Perth, and Inverness. We celebrate their success and also recognise the vital support from employers who invest in these apprentices, nurturing remarkable talent.”

The 2024 competition was supported by BPEC as the headline sponsor, with category sponsors NIBE for renewables, Airdrie Mechanical Services for copper, and City Plumbing for the lead category.

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