James McCall-Smith wins skillPLUMB 2018

The skillPLUMB competition 2018 has named 21 year old James McCall-Smith from Tullos Training Ltd as gold medalist and UK champion after James excelled in the final which took place at WorldSkills UK LIVE at the NEC in Birmingham between 15th and 17th November 2018.

Closely watched by the judges and over 80,000 visitors to the show, James and his fellow finalists had to complete an intensive three-day practical exercise. The exercise consisted of the installation of a small sealed domestic central heating system with expansion vessel and ancillary equipment, inclusive of three small bespoke radiators, an unvented hot water cylinder, a boiler mounting jig, motorised zone valves and copper pipework (22mm & 15mm).

Taking second place, and a silver medal, was 20 year old Leonard Keown from South West College. Third place, and a bronze medal, went to 20 year old Thomas Moys from Petroc. Shane Murray from Southern Regional College and Millan Macdonald from Dundee & Angus College were both highly commended.


All eight finalists received a competition medallion and certificate, together with prizes including a BPEC training manual, vouchers, a goody bag from Unite, CIPHE Membership, tools and plumbing products donated by competition sponsors Monument Tools, McAlpine, Grundfos Pumps and Worcester Bosch.

As the gold medalist, James will also get the opportunity to take part in the Grundfos Installer Championship, being held at the ISH trade exhibition next March in Frankfurt. This will be a fantastic experience, courtesy of Grundfos Pumps, to test James’ skills against competitors from 20 different countries on an international stage.

Speaking after his win, James said:

“It’s absolutely fantastic to have won, the competition was so tight and it seemed like we were all working at the same level so I’ve over the moon to be named the champion. It was challenging working under pressure and with the added pressure of the spectators but I just did my best. The support from my employer, family and college was much appreciated and I’m looking forward to progressing in my career with this win under my belt”.

Neil Collishaw, Deputy CEO from BPEC who are the organisers of SkillPLUMB, commented:

“This year we had a superb set of tasks which really tested and challenged the eight finalists. We are very proud of all of the competitors and have been so impressed with the standard of work produced. The finalists are excellent ambassadors for the industry and fantastic role models for other young people who are considering a career in our industry”.

“The finals are inspirational to young people considering a vocational career and WorldSkills UK LIVE, with over 80,00 visitors, is an excellent platform to showcase the skills and talents of all the finalists. Over the three days we had an excellent turnout of visitors who were all really impressed with the standards of skill on display at our stand.”

The National Finals of the WorldSkills UK competitions saw more than 500 competitors battle it out, where SkillPLUMB was just one of the 70 different disciplines taking place.

SkillPLUMB has Initiative Copper as its premier sponsor and is also supported by APHC, Aqualisa, Altecnic, CIPHE, EAS Mechanical, Grundfos, JIB-PMES, McAlpine, Monument Tools, SNIPEF and Worcester Bosch. BPEC would like to especially thank Worcester Bosch for providing the hot water cylinders used within the competition task.

SKILLPLUMB Further Information

For more information about the skillPLUMB competition please click here.

Photographs from the 2018 skillPLUMB final can be seen here.