Belfast Telegraph

Plumber Abigail and butcher Conor scoop top awards

Top award: Abigail Reilly
Top award: Abigail Reilly
Gold winner: Conor Reynolds

By Staff Reporter

A Ballymoney plumbing apprentice was the only female student to win a gold medal at the annual Skillbuild Northern Ireland competition.

And a young butcher from Portadown proved he was a 'cut above the rest' at an international competition, in which he won gold.

Plumbing isn't just a pipe dream for Abigail Reilly, a student at Northern Regional College, after she beat apprentices from all over Northern Ireland to take first place.

Abigail was one of only two females to take part in Skillbuild, which sees entrants from all over Northern Ireland pitting their skills against each other across different trade areas - including plumbing, carpentry, joinery, electrical installation and brickwork.

Now in the second year of her plumbing apprenticeship at the College's Trostan Avenue campus in Ballymena, Abigail is employed by the Dowds Group, and has worked on major projects such as the multi-million-pound redevelopment of Altnagelvin Hospital.

Northern Regional College principal Terri Scott said: "Abigail is a fantastic role model and I hope that her Skillbuild success will encourage other young women to consider non-traditional career paths like apprenticeships.

"Competitions like Skillbuild are a great way to showcase the talent and the technical skills of our apprentices and also to demonstrate to employers the high standard of provision which exists in our college."

Meanwhile, Conor Reynolds, who's a butcher with M&W Farm Meats in Portadown, won gold at the International Young Butcher competition in Perth, Australia.

Conor dedicated his award to his grandfather, Gerry Reynolds, who passed away recently and was his biggest supporter.

The 19-year-old has also recently been named as the Young Butcher for Team Ireland who will be defending their World Butchers of the Year crown in Sacramento, California in 2020.

Following his win, Conor said: "Four years ago, I started to learn the craft of butchery, and recently I've become more confident in my skills and have started to take part in competitions.

"Just last year, I took part in the Premier Young Butcher Competition in Birmingham, winning five out of the six categories and I was named as the overall winner, but even back then, I didn't for one second think that I would be competing in Australia, never mind winning an International award."

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