A Painting and Decorating apprentice from Newcastle College is once again celebrating after making it to the final rounds of two national competitions.

22-year-old Courtney Maddison from Newcastle, received a special Highly Commended award at the final of the Screwfix Trade Apprentice 2023 competition, held in London in May. From 1,700 entries across the country, Courtney came a very close second, resulting in the creation of the Highly Commended Award. 

Sammy Ough, Head of Marketing Communications for Screwfix said: “Each year we’re taken back with the high standard of applicants entering the competition, and this year’s final was unbelievably close, which is why we’ve awarded Courtney a Highly Commended award.

“Courtney showed a real passion for painting and decorating and her drive to be the very best she can be, was incredibly inspiring. All the judges were blown away with her professionalism and determination to go the extra mile for herself and her customers. I’m looking forward to seeing where this accolade will take her.”

Courtney has also made it to the final two of the National Professional Decorating Associations (PDA) Apprentice of the Year Competition and will find out in July whether she has placed first or second.

These are the sixth and seventh award wins and shortlists for Courtney in the last two years. She has previously won NCG Skills twice, reached the finals of WorldSkills UK, been awarded the Babington Award for Apprentice of the Year as well as reaching the finals of the Crown Apprentice Decorator of the Year Award.

Courtney’s tutor, Andy Ritchie, said he had absolutely no doubt that Courtney would do well in these competitions. He said: “It’s incredible to think how far Courtney has come. I put her forward for the SkillBuild competition last year to help build her confidence and show her how good she is, but she did far better than I ever could have hoped for, and she’s come on in leaps and bounds ever since.

“Courtney is totally dedicated to being the best she can be. She is a prime example of what can be achieved by hard work and dedication and is an inspiration to other apprentices and students within our area. I’m so proud of her and can’t wait to see what she’s going to win next!”

Courtney said it has really helped her to build her confidence: “I’m not scared of getting stuck into competitions anymore. I’ve got a lot more confidence with every event I’ve taken part in, and I’ve made some great friends.”

Looking to the future, Courtney, now in the final year of her apprenticeship, wants to empower the next generation of DIYers. She said: “I didn’t know painting and decorating was even a job until I was about 18. My mam and I did all the decorating around the house. Not everyone can afford to pay someone. You don’t have any choice with plumbers and electricians, but with decorating, it’s a real privilege to be able to afford a professional decorator.

“I want to give people the skills and knowledge to be able to paint their own homes to a proper, professional standard. It's not going to impact on local businesses because these people wouldn’t be hiring them anyway, so why not help those who need it?”

Being able to develop practical skills on the job and in competitions is just one benefit of doing an apprenticeship, where 80% of the time is spent being trained by an employer.

Find out more about Painting and Decorating courses and apprenticeships at Newcastle College