Caerphilly plumbing apprentice crowned UK’s best

A college learner from Caerphilly has been crowned the UK’s top plumbing apprentice after winning a national competition.

Twenty-year-old Ruben Duggan from Blackwood has beaten off stiff competition from across the UK to land himself the top prize at the grand finals of this year’s HIP Apprentice of the Year competition.

The competition, run by HIP magazine aims to shine a light on the most talented young apprentices in the industry.

Ruben, who is currently studying an NVQ Level 3 plumbing diploma at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Ystrad Mynach campus, came out on top after a tough two-day contest held at Worcester-Bosch’s headquarters in Worcester.

Putting his plumbing skills to the test, the event saw him compete against five other regional finalists in a series of challenges. Each of the contenders had just 12 hours to install a boiler, shower, cylinder, radiator, pipework, and vanity unit, with their work assessed by a panel of professional industry judges.

Ruben’s triumph saw him scoop up the title of top plumber as well as take home a vast collection of professional tools and equipment worth more than £5,000.

Coming from a family of plumbers, with his father running his own successful business and his older brother also working in the industry, Ruben was inspired from a young age to follow in his parent’s footsteps and pursue a career in the sector.

Speaking about his victory, he said: “I’m really glad that the college encouraged and supported me to enter this competition. It’s been a challenging but fantastic experience, giving me the opportunity to showcase my skills. I didn’t expect to win so was really surprised when I did!

“It’s a great feeling to be recognised and I think the award will help me with my future career. I’m really proud to have won, though I have to say I think my dad was even more excited than I was!”

The talented apprentice landed himself a place at the finals after winning the Welsh regional heat held at Ebbw Vale college in March, where he completed a series of pipework tasks to secure his spot in the final.

As a Level 3 learner and apprentice, Ruben’s time is split between college-based learning at Coleg y Cymoedd and his practical work at south Wales plumbing firm, Power Serv. Following the completion of his apprenticeship later this year, he will continue to work full time with his family business.

Lee Perry, plumbing lecturer at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “We are immensely proud of Ruben. From day one, it was clear to us that he was a standout learner. With his father already working in the industry, he has learnt a lot about the job from a young age and you can see that in his abilities. He is an example of a learner who lives and breathes plumbing and his achievement is down to his hard work and dedication to his profession.

“Coleg y Cymoedd has a strong track record when it comes to the HIP Plumbing awards. Out of nine competitions held over the last decade, our learners have made the UK finals seven times, with two of those going on to win the prestigious award.

“This is testament to the high calibre of teaching we offer at the college. We work hard to demonstrate the highest level of plumbing to our learners and ensure we are always keeping up to date with the latest industry standards. It’s great to see our apprentices doing so well.”