College students take the top four spots in contest

Matthew Churchill, Lewis Blake, Reece Sullivan, and winner Zac Jiggins
Matthew Churchill, Lewis Blake, Reece Sullivan, and winner Zac Jiggins

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FOUR budding mechanics showed off their skills to take awards at a regional automotive contest.

The team of students from Highbury College, in Cosham, took the top four places in the qualifying round of the Institute of the Motor Industry’s SkillAuto competition.

The group – Zac Jiggins, 20, Lewis Blake, 18, Matt Churchill, 20, and Rhys Sullivan, 17 – were competing against more than 300 entrants.

Zac, who has been studying for two years, won gold.

He said: ‘I wasn’t expecting it at all, I thought I’d done quite badly, but obviously the markings were tight and it was the little things that mattered.’

All four are currently studying at Highbury College for their Level 3 qualification in light vehicle maintenance and repair.

An automotive student pops the bonnet on a car in Highbury College's garage PPP-160630-100833001

An automotive student pops the bonnet on a car in Highbury College's garage PPP-160630-100833001

After tackling a tough online exam on advanced diagnostics in the first round, they competed in the national qualifiers at Jaguar Land Rover Academy in Warwick.

Graham Stoakes, a lecturer in automotive studies at Highbury College, has called the unanimous victory at the regionals a ‘great accolade’ for the class of 2016.

He said: ‘I was very pleased that four of my students this year went through to the regional finals.

‘I have had students in the past that have gone through but they’ve normally been as individuals, so to get four through this year was an achievement.

‘The training helps set them up and prepare them for the finals, and this shows in how close the marks were from first to fourth place.’

With national qualifiers also held in Milton Keynes, Atherstone and Winsford, the young mechanics are eager to find out if they will get the opportunity to participate in the national final in November. Held at the NEC in Birmingham, the finalists will battle it out as part of WorldSkills UK’s Skills Show: the country’s largest careers and skills event.