A Chichester College cabinet-maker has won silver at this month’s national skills competition finals.
Finlay Champion came second in the cabinet making category at the nation finals of the WorldSkills UK competition in Birmingham, which saw more than 500 apprentices and students in 70 different disciplines battle it out to be named the best in the country.
Finlay, who is also employed at the college as an apprentice, is studying towards his diploma in furniture design & making. He said: “It hasn’t really sunk in yet, so it doesn’t feel real.
“My focus was to get the cabinet finished in time! That was the aim, as at regionals I didn’t quite finish my piece so I wanted to improve on that – so to finish and get silver feels like a fantastic achievement.
“It is really challenging. You have a limited time – eight hours on the Thursday, eight on the Friday and then two final hours on Saturday morning – to complete a cabinet, and you’ve never seen the design until you walk into the competition. You don’t know the size, shape, timber, if it has a door or a drawer – nothing until you arrive.
“You have to give yourself a plan, and work to that – which is a lot, especially with everyone watching you.
“There are thousands of visitors, schoolkids, all wandering around and making noise which can be distracting, although I don’t remember seeing anyone as I just got my head down and focused.
“I’ve still got a long way to go and we should hear soon who will be in the UK training squad for Shanghai. That’s my goal.”
Finlay will now have a chance to follow in the footsteps of Chichester College’s world champion cabinet makers Edward Harringman and George Callow, who both won gold for the UK at WorldSkills competitions in 2015 and 2013 respectively.
The UK squad will be announced in early December, when training starts for WorldSkills 2021 – which is being held in Shanghai.
Christian Notley MBE, lecturer at Chichester College and training manager for WorldSkills UK cabinet making, said: “Fin did really well in the competition – it was really close at the top and he was just a whisker away from the gold medal.
“But to win silver is an outstanding achievement and sets him among the best in the country in cabinet making.
“We have a really good pedigree here at the college, and it’s great to see that continuing.”