Aberdeenshire plumber to represent UK at global skills competition

Connor Cruden and Garry Cowie

AN Aberdeenshire-based plumber is set to represent the UK at the WorldSkills Plumbing Finals in Germany next month.

Connor Cruden, who in 2020 completed his four-year plumbing apprenticeship having come top in 2019 at the SkillPLUMB UK finals, is preparing for the competition in the Black Forest town of Lahr in early November.

The event, which was originally scheduled to take place last year in Shanghai, China, has been relocated because of continuing Covid-19 restrictions. It is held under the auspices of Grohe, the German plumbing fixtures manufacturer, and will involve participants from 20 countries.

Connor, who grew up in Huntly, is now based in Turriff where he works for Cowie Plumbing & Heating. He said, “I have been training hard for the WorldSkills final, making regular visits to my coach, Ronnie Ferris, who is based in Newry, County Down, and tackling demanding pieces of work and producing them to challenging tolerances. I am excited by going to Germany to test my abilities against others and intend to do my best.

“All the skills I have developed have come from the guidance of my instructors, Jim MacKinnon at Moray College, my employer Garry Cowie, and of course my parents and my coach. I am hugely grateful to all of them, as well as to SNIPEF which has paved my way to the WorldSkills finals.”

Mr Cowie added, “It was clear from the outset that Connor was an exceptional talent, able to absorb complex issues both rapidly and accurately. We were all very proud of his achievement in coming top in the 2019 SkillPLUMB UK finals and will be cheering him on all the way next month in Germany.”

Dale Thomson, training manager at SNIPEF Training Services, commented, “Talents such as Connor’s are exceptional but the excellent showing of apprentices from SNIPEF members in competition with others has demonstrated consistently a real strength in depth. Back-up to Connor for the WorldSkills final, for example, is Samuel Henderson, another apprentice trained by a SNIPEF member.

“Everyone at SNIPEF will be watching closely to see how Connor fares amongst his peers and we are all hoping for a good outcome. Whatever happens, we know he will give it his all.”

Neil Collishaw, CEO of the BPEC Group, which organise the SkillPLUMB competition, said, “Connor and Samuel are a credit to their employers and colleges, and fantastic ambassadors for the UK plumbing industry as well as anyone considering a career in our industry. When they both competed at the SkillPLUMB 2019 UK finals we knew they were destined for greater things.”

Supported by SNIPEF, Scotland and Northern Ireland’s plumbing and heating industry’s trade association, and BPEC’s Charity, the WorldSkills competition enables apprentices to showcase their skills and knowledge of best plumbing practice, and is designed to promote standards and skills across the industry.

Competing apprentices are given previously unseen detailed drawings from which they must devise practical plumbing solutions.