Forres plumbing apprentice wins silver award in UK skills contest

Picture: Plumbing apprentice Sean Esslemont (centre) who won the silver award in the UK WorldSkills contest, pictured with fellow Scottish finalists Kayne Forsyth (left) and Jack Forbes

A Forres plumbing apprentice has been ranked second in the UK after winning silver in a national competition which recognises the skills of the trade.

Sean Esslemont, who studied at Moray College and is now employed by Elgin-based McDonald and Munro took home the award from the UKWorldSkills event in Middlesborough.

Three Scottish plumbing apprentices, all of whom are employed by SNIPEF (Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation) members, qualified for the top eight at the UK WorldSkills final held last month at Middlesborough College.

The two other Scots finalists were Kayne Forsyth of North East College Scotland, employed by Old Meldrum, Aberdeenshire-based Camwater Ltd, and Jack Forbes of Edinburgh College, who works for A Alexander & Son (Electrical) Ltd of Glasgow.


Sean, now 20, started his apprenticeship after leaving school as he was looking to become a tradesman. He was offered the opportunity to compete in the UK WorldSkills contest by Moray UHI lecturer Jim Mackinnon, and employers McDonald and Munro.

He said: “I had to compete in the National Qualifiers in June which took place in Glasgow allowing me to progress to the National Finals.

“I would recommend the WorldSkills competitions to any other young people in trades, as they are a great experience.”

Valued team member

Miguel Gomez, director at McDonald and Munro, said: “As a company, we strongly believe in the value of apprentices and take on three to four each year.  Sean started work with us as a plumbing and heating apprentice in 2019. Since then his knowledge and ability have continued to grow and he is a valued member of our team.

“His standard of work at the competition was exceptional and it’s an amazing achievement to get silver. Well done Sean.”

McDonald and Munro Ltd, based in Elgin, is an electrical, plumbing and heating company that has been in business since 1974 and employ approximately 40 personnel across all disciplines.

All three competitors were supported by their college lecturers as well as SNIPEF’s Training Manager, Dale Thomson.

Practical skills

He said: “To have three out of eight finalists in this highly regarded UK-wide skills contest, all employed by SNIPEF members and trained at three Scottish colleges, is a great tribute to, and a fantastic reflection of, the high quality of work and training conducted in Scotland.

“It was inspiring to see our SNIPEF apprentices demonstrate their skills under close inspection by industry experts on a series of challenging practical tests and be assessed on their individual knowledge, practical skills and employability attributes against set criteria in a competitively timed environment.”

Fiona Hodgson, SNIPEF Chief Executive, said: “We congratulate Sean, Kayne and Jack on their hard work throughout the competition. All three SNIPEF apprentices did an amazing job to be in the top eight apprentice plumbers in the UK and we are all very proud.”

Craig Fairweather from Elgin, who also works for McDonald and Munro, picked up a gold medal in the electrical installation competition at the final.

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