At the familiarisation day at Heidelberg UK, Skills Show competitor Craig Clifford, an apprentice at Stirland Paterson, had said: "I want to prove what I can do. I thrive under pressure."
And he did, taking the Gold Medal for Printing at The Skills Show at the NEC.
The award was made by Paul Chamberlain of key sponsor Heidelberg at the closing ceremony on Saturday.
Craig wore his gold medal to work on Monday and he says he is really excited about his trip to Heidelberg, the prize he had coveted from the start. "It was a really tough three days and the adrenalin was up and down but the hardest part was waiting to hear who'd won on the Saturday," he says.
His print manager Neil Whitten had visited the Skills Show on the Friday and was at the awards ceremony on the Saturday. He says: "Craig is top dog and we are all chuffed to bits here at Stirland Paterson."
At work in Ilkeston Craig Clifford operates across two B2 presses. He has been with the company for six years, initially in warehousing and packing, then guillotining before two years ago getting the opportunity to become a press apprentice.
There were 2,000 points up for grabs across the three day challenge and Craig Clifford was just four points clear of Jordan Moore of Phase Print and only about 30 points separated all four contestants. The other two apprentices were Ashley Howland of Hartgraph and Jamie Cleaver of Warwick Printing.
"It was hard to tell who'd win and it came down to the very last print run when Craig edged it with very good and consistent colour measurement results", says Martin Cusack, image and media manager of X-Rite who was one of the panel of judges..
"This show highlighted just what an asset apprentices are to our industry. All of the contestants work was outstanding as they channelled their knowledge and enthusiasm into their work. They competed in the Printing area, watched by students, teachers, parents and even their bosses but kept cool heads and seemed undisturbed by the noise."
The judges included representatives from Sappi and Vision in Print, part of the BPIF, and was chaired by Matt Loney, previously of Leicester College and now a consultant specialising in lean manufacturing. Proskills were actively involved in discussing careers opportunities and providing collateral at the show.
The Skills Show was opened with VIP appearances from Theo Paphitas from The Dragons Den and Vince Cable MP, business secretary. The Skills Show, the largest careers and skills event in the UK, was to promote industries and apprenticeships to young people and it was heaving from the start with about 100,000 visitors over the three days.
Mark Hogan, marketing director of Heidelberg UK, says:: "We were extremely proud to present Printing to students and the public and to support a competition which encourages high standards in our industry and fosters the idea of apprenticeships. Our industry needs to attract and retain young people by showing what an innovative, creative and exciting business print is and that it offers a great career. The four participants were each a credit to their company and to our industry and we wish them well in the future."