Gold for Ollie in skills challenge

A SUFFOLK student chosen to represent the UK at international level in a skills competition has returned from a European event with a gold medal.

Ollie King, 21, from Woodbridge, who is currently studying on a landscaping course at Otley College, has been selected to compete at the WorldSkills event next year as part of Great Britain’s landscape gardening multi-skills team.

As part of their preparation for the event, the team took part in the EuroSkills competition held earlier this month in the Portuguese capital Lisbon.

In contests held over the three days, the four-man team from Great Britain saw off competition from Austria, Finland, Holland, Portugal and Sweden to win gold in the “Best Teamwork” category.

They also won silver in the “Garden Construction” section of the contest.

“The anticipation was unbearable when the announcements were made; the judges really kept us hanging on,” said Ollie. “But when we won the gold medal for teamwork I was overwhelmed. It was all a bit of a blur but now that I am back in the UK, I’m euphoric.”

He added: “I would like to say a special thanks to my tutors – Jody Lidgard, David Bullock, Dave Smith and Glynn Stockings – for their support. Fingers crossed that I come back with a gold medal in the WorldSkills event that takes place in London next year.”

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Rob Storer, director of land-based industries at Otley, said: “This is the second year in a row that Otley students have represented the UK in landscape construction. The success is a great indication of the hard work that Ollie has put into this and the support that Otley lecturers have provided.

“He deserves a lot of credit for his hard work and commitment and we are incredibly proud of his success. As a college we are incredibly proud and this experience will stand him in good stead in the future. For example, the two lads who were representing Otley in WorldSkills last year have already set up their own business.

“The experience has given them the skills, knowledge and awareness to really set them apart from others.”