UHI Inverness apprentice wins national paperhanger prize

UHI Inverness apprentice Rebecca Mackinnon has been named Apprentice Paperhanger of the Year after competing in a nationwide competition.

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PDA Chief Executive Neil Ogilvie, Rebecca Mackinnon and David Hope from competition sponsor Brewers Decorator Centres.

Rebecca (20) from Stornoway took part in a gruelling six-hour wallpaper hanging challenge hosted by the Painting and Decorating Association (PDA) at Doncaster College and University Centre in June.

She was revealed as the Senior Apprentice Paperhanger of the Year at a recent Gala Dinner hosted by the PDA at Stratford Manor in Warwickshire.

As the UK’s largest trade association for the painting and decorating sector, the PDA hosts two annual competitions for apprentices, inviting young people to showcase their skills across a series of competition events each spring.

The Apprentice Paperhanger of the Year contest requires participants to complete a specific wallpaper task designed to test their precision, skill and eye for detail over six hours.

This year was Rebecca’s second foray into the competition, having placed as Junior runner-up in 2021.

Rebecca said: “I was over the moon when I realised I had come first. After taking part last year, I was definitely inspired to try again at senior level. The first time can be overwhelming, but I knew what to expect this time.

“I always do my best at work, and in competition you have to just enjoy taking part, make sure you’ve got all your measurements right and take it from there.

“This competition is really valuable, and I’d definitely encourage other apprentices to give it a go, it’s a great experience.

“My employer and my college lecturers are really happy for me. They’ve been there for me and encouraged me to enter in the first place, so it’s great to be able to say I’ve won, but the most important thing is to have taken part.”

Rebecca’s lecturer Mark Mitchell said: “All of us at UHI Inverness are immensely proud of Rebecca’s award. Last year she took second place in the New Entrant section, so it’s a testament to Rebecca’s dedication, hard work and resolve to go one better this year. Rebecca is an absolute credit to UHI Inverness and her employer, Neil MacKay & Co, who has supported Rebecca at every opportunity.

“This competition is hugely important in showcasing to employers and the wider community the depth of talent amongst painting and decorating apprentices, and the standard of competition this year was exceptional.”

Painting and decorator lecturer Maureen Turner said: “The drive, determination and passion Rebecca has shown for her craft since she embarked on her apprenticeship has, at long last, been recognised with her success in winning this award. Her hunger and desire to succeed within her craft is second to none, and we wish her every success in the future.” 

The competition was judged by PDA Chief Executive Neil Ogilvie and Melanie Adams, Head of Wallpaper at competition sponsor Brewers Decorator Centres.

Neil said: “Hanging wallpaper is a specific skill and the tasks set as part of the Apprentice Paperhanger of the Year are deliberately challenging.

“Rebecca showed a real commitment to the craft and the level of her hard work and skill is reflected in this award. She is a credit to herself, her employer and her college, and I was delighted to offer my congratulations to her in person at the Gala Dinner.”

The awards were presented by Neil Ogilvie and David Hope, National Sales Development Manager at Brewers Decorator Centres at the annual PDA Gala Dinner this month.

Issued by PDA