Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is celebrating success at this year’s SkillBuild construction 'skills Olympics' after two of the organisation's stonemasons faced competitors from across the UK to take first and second place in the national finals in Edinburgh.

Luke Maher, stonemason based at HES’s Doune depot, was crowned winner in the Stonemasonry competition, while Douglas Stevens, formerly a stonemason based at HES's Perth depot and now one of the organisation's Traditional Skills Training Officers, took the runner's up place. James Lewis, based at the Kildrummy depot, was also highly commended in the competition.

Commenting on his win, Luke said: "It feels good winning gold as the competition is so high at this event, you're competing against the top seven apprentices in the whole UK. It makes all the hard work and stress - not just from myself, but everyone involved - worth it.

"This is the second time I've competed in the WorldSkills competition and one of things I enjoy most about them is chatting to other apprentices from around the UK and hearing the different kind of jobs they’re doing and their experience as an apprentice. The time management and coping with stress skills you develop throughout these competitions I think are beneficial not only now, but for my career going forward.

"A big thank you to everyone who has helped and supported me throughout this experience."

The stonemasons competed alongside two other HES trained apprentices in the national finals, Marcus Nicol (AGM Stone) and Calum Peach (Tamara).

SkillBuild, delivered by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) in partnership with WorldSkills UK, is the largest multi-trade competition in the UK for construction trainees and apprentices. It offers a chance for trainees to compete in a bid to be crowned winner of their chosen trade. As competitors progress through each stage, they are tested on their technical abilities, time management, and commitment. The competition is viewed by many as an opportunity to develop confidence, self-esteem, and life skills.

Colin Tennant, Head of Technical Education and Training at HES, said: "It’s fantastic to see the skill, craft and dedication of our stonemasons recognised at this national competition and I’m very proud of their achievement.

"Their win is also testament to the quality and expertise of our skills training staff, who deliver craft skills training to the highest standard, as well as our Monument Conservation teams who provide support and mentoring for our apprentices.

"HES will continue to champion these traditional skills and support the wider conservation sector to address the current skills shortage in maintenance and repair, delivering green jobs and skills that will help ensure Scotland’s historic buildings can thrive as part of the country’s sustainable future."

HES delivers stonemasonry training at its Skills Training Centres in Stirling and Elgin, in partnership with Forth Valley College. The organisation has recently significantly increased its capacity for traditional skills training with the opening of a new larger facility in Stirling, building on the successful delivery of Modern Apprenticeships in Stonemasonry for over 10 years in the city, and for over 20 years in Elgin.

extracted from HES website - read more here

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