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23 May 2012

Luke Gonzales named winner of first SkillFRIDGE UK-wide semi-final

Cardiff and Vale College student Luke Gonzales, employed by MacWhirter Ltd, has been announced as winner of the first UK-wide semi-final in the SkillFRIDGE competition to find the country’s best refrigeration engineer.

Nineteen-year-old Luke, a student on the Refrigeration Engineering Level 2 course at the College, battled it out with other semi-finalists from across the south of England, the Midlands and Wales at Bridgwater College on 16 May. Second place went to twenty-year-old Thomas Morris from Integral, a student at South Birmingham College. In third place was Pauline McAfee, 21, who studies at Eastleigh College and is employed by Kooltech.

The event is part of the nationwide SkillM&E competitions, organised by SummitSkills, the sector skills council for building services engineering. The second SkillFRIDGE semi-final will take place at Gateshead College on 30 May. The highest-scoring competitors from the semi-finals go on to compete in the UK-wide finals of SkillFRIDGE which will take place at The Skills Show in November at the NEC, Birmingham.

Luke said: “I knew this was going to be difficult but didn’t expect the competition to be as hard as it was. Having to complete a complicated task in the time allowed really piles the pressure on but you have to step up to the challenge.

I had to draw on everything I learnt in my work experience with my employer, MacWhirter Ltd, and through my training with Cardiff and Vale College. I need to thank them, particularly my tutor Gareth Ellaway, for how well they obviously prepared me.”

Neil Collishaw, head of skills competitions and awards at organisers SummitSkills, said: “Congratulations to Paul and well done to all the competitors. They were presented with a difficult task, but rose to challenge and the judges were impressed with the level of skill they showed.” Contestants had six hours to install a wiring circuit including a clock, thermostat, dual HP/LP switch, terminal box and isolator. Their work had to be completed within the time limit, safely and to recognised industry standards, with a very small tolerance for any errors.

These competitions are the feeder route for competitors to potentially go forward and represent their country at the biennial WorldSkills competition – the world’s largest skills competition. The next WorldSkills event takes place at Leipzig in German in July 2013.