Students become the UK’s best of the best

Talented Creative Media Production & Games Development student Penny-Jane Prior, 17, from Chester, who studies at South Cheshire College/West Cheshire College’s Ellesmere Port Campus, has won Gold at the WorldSkills UK Competition in 3D Digital Game Art.

Penny-Jane, who competed in front of 70,000 spectators at the NEC in Birmingham last weekend, had previously fought through the National Qualifiers, completing months of intensive training.

Penny-Jane, along with Louise Bateman, 36, from Ellesmere Port who took Bronze in the Nail Technician category, were amongst the finest students in the UK to battle it out in the final showdown.

WorldSkills UK brings together apprentices and young people from across the UK to compete to be the best in their chosen skill – first in national competitions and then as Team UK in international skills competitions.

As a finalist in the ‘3D Digital Game Art’ competition within the Media and Creative sector, Penny-Jane competed at the highest level to claim first place and is now recognised as the best 3D Digital Game Art Student within her age group in the UK.

Penny-Jane commented: “After taking part in the semi-finals a few months ago, I was looking forward to competing in the final competition.

“Before the event I wasn’t too sure how the competition would go, but on the first day when I read the brief, I knew I was in with a good chance.

“The finals took place over three-days with 16 hours of assessment in total and evaluated on a daily points system. Leading into the final day, I was feeling confident and most people had already pinned the title on me. However, by the end of the competition I was starting to doubt myself slightly. I knew I had done enough to be in the top three but wasn’t sure if I had gained the winning spot, so I was really chuffed to find out that I had won.

“It was a pretty grueling experience, hard work and challenging as you would expect but I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey and am delighted to have come out on top.

“I feel competing has given me valuable experience of a real life working environment, as well as immense exposure within the industry. Competition wise, I now plan to fight to get into the WorldSkills Worldwide Competition as part of the UK squad. The selection process for this takes place next year with the finals being held in Russia so is a great opportunity and I definitely want to continue competing.”

The WorldSkills UK competition was part of the nation’s largest skills, apprenticeships and careers event, intended to encourage, inspire ambition, push for excellence and equip entrants with world-class skills. The competitions are designed by experts to be highly competitive, assessing numerous abilities against a set of strict criteria.

Competing in the ‘Nail Technician’ competition as part of the Beauty category, Louise Bateman equally impressed the judges to become a finalist. ““I went in to the competition thinking I had a good chance, however all the competitors were amazing so it really was a tough final. This year was all about having the full package and the brief was pretty big so there was a lot to accomplish in just two-days. It was challenging, especially as the results were completely unknown until the end. No one knew which way it would go, so I was totally made up to get a medal.

“It’s been a fantastic year for me so far, with a few competition successes along the way. I came third in the Nail Starters Student Permanent Polish category at the Professional Beauty Awards earlier this year, second in the Nail Services category at the WorldSkills UK Regional Competition in July and now achieved third place in the finals, so a great 12-months and the perfect way to end the year.

“Our Tutor, Andrea Rimmer has been absolutely great. She’s been so supportive and has always encouraged us to take part for the experience and the exposure, but hasn’t put pressure on us to win. Ultimately she just wanted us to get the most from the competitions, to learn from the experience and enjoy it.

“It’s been stressful along the way but really great fun” said Louise, who studies Level 3 Nail Technology at the College’s Ellesmere Port campus.