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Winner of SkillFRIDGE competition is revealed

Luke Courtney of South East Regional College Lisburn has been awarded a Gold medal in the national SkillFRIDGE competition, sponsored by Toshiba.

Luke Courtney of South East Regional College Lisburn has been awarded a Gold medal in the national SkillFRIDGE competition, sponsored by Toshiba.

The competition was held at The Skills Show, which took place from 17-19 November at the NEC Birmingham. The event, organised by WorldSkills UK, provides a national showcase for the brightest young talent emerging in five skills sectors: Engineering and Technology, Media and Creative, IT and Enterprise, Hospitality and Lifestyle, Construction and Infrastructure. The winners in each field may go on to represent the UK in the WorldSkills championships internationally.

Luke, an apprentice refrigeration engineer at Dunbia Northern Ireland said: “This has been a good opportunity to learn and it’s great to have on my CV. It also shows that my employer has provided me with the right training and experience. My hope for the future is to become a good qualified engineer and progress from there.”

South East Regional College also saw another of its students, Chris Hoy, awarded a Silver medal. Chris, an apprentice refrigeration engineer with A & B Refrigeration said: “I think my employer will benefit from the knowledge I’ve gained from taking part in the competition. I think it will make me a better engineer.”

Bronze medal winner John Thompson of Glasgow Klein College is a refrigeration and air conditioning apprentice at Turner Dundee. He said: “The lecturers at my college nominated me for the SkillFRIDGE competition and taking part has reminded me how important quality standards are in the trade I am learning. I would like to continue to do well and pass on my knowledge to other up and coming apprentices in the future.”

Project manager and head judge Mark Forsyth was joined on the panel by Sean Creech (Eastleigh College) and past WorldSkills UK competitors Ryan Unwin (Bruntwood management Services), Joseph Conroy (Trane UK) and 2015 WS International silver medallist, Chris Bailie ( BL Refrigeration and Air Conditioning).

Each of the contestants worked incredibly hard throughout the competition, with Chad Meechan of Glasgow Klein College and Adam Jackson and Steven Monk of Bath College also performing to a good standard.

Commenting on the tasks set, Mark said: “Competitors had to demonstrate knowledge and skills in refrigerant recovery, charging, commissioning, component replacement and electrical fault finding in a time pressured environment.

“Competitors found the event both challenging and rewarding as they discovered what it takes to be a competition winner and an accomplished service technician.”

Each of the finalists received a tool bag from Advanced Engineering and a young person’s membership to the Institute of Refrigeration. IOR Secretary Miriam Rodway said: “We believe that these young engineers are fantastic ambassadors for the industry and need to be supported to achieve their full potential. IOR membership will give them access to regular technical updates and papers, networking opportunities and a large online library of high quality technical guidance notes.”

When Datateam Business Media became the competition organising partner for SkillFRIDGE back in April, its aim was to produce a much more sustainable model for the competition and with the support of industry, it has done just that.

As lead sponsor Toshiba Air Conditioning invested significantly in the event, providing training days for the finalists and taking a stand at what is nation’s largest skills apprenticeships and careers event to fly the flag of the ACR industry. Competition organising partner manager Karena Cooper said: “To have them there, with their own team of apprentices available to speak to visitors and cheer on the finalists, will have surely helped spread the word that there are many very exciting careers within this industry.

“We must also thank our brand partners; Aspen Pumps, DW Refrigeration and Refrigeration Wholesale who together with our Association Partners; FETA, Women in RACHP, the Institute of Refrigeration and The institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, have provided significant support to the competition.

“Thanks also to our equipment suppliers, Advanced Engineering, Beijer Refrigeration, Vulcan Lokring, A-Gas, Fieldpiece, FSW and Lawton Tubes for providing our competitors the tools to enable them to complete each of the tasks successfully.

“And finally, the colleges that took part as without them, there would be no competition: Glasgow Kelvin College, The Manchester College, Bath College, Grimsby Institute, South East Regional College, Eastleigh College, and the College of Northwest London.

“This has been a real partnership between us, WorldSkills and industry – and it’s worked. Refrigeration and air conditioning is back on the map!”

For more information about how you can support SkillFRIDGE, contact Karena Cooper on 01622 699150, email or visit





Pictured right: Luke with head judge Mark Forsyth and David Dunn, director and general manager of Toshiba Air Conditioning and CIAT Ozonair

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