A student from Moreton Morrell College has won Gold in the WorldSkills UK Skills Competition Finals at The Skills Show.
Claire Hammond, from Claverdon won the accolade after beating off stiff competition from all over the UK over three days of competition at The Skills Show, which took place from 19 to 21 November 2015 at the NEC Birmingham.
Claire secured a place in the WorldSkills UK Skills Competition Finals after coming first in the regional floristry heats which took place earlier this year – she was joined by fellow student Emily Deacon in the finals.
Claire, who has just completed her Level 4 qualification in Floristry and runs her own shop in Wootton Wawen, said, “It was very intense. I’ve been telling everyone it was like Masterchef for florists! We had to make five pieces altogether on the theme of ‘Festival of Lights’ but we didn’t know what we were making in advance and we didn’t know what flowers and materials we had.
“I felt like I had done a good job with my pieces, but then everyone’s work looked good and I wasn’t sure exactly what the judges were looking for. I did hope I had done enough to get a medal, and I have to admit that a small part of me secretly hoped I might have done enough to win gold.
“When my name came up on the big screen and I was over the moon. My legs were a bit shaky too! I am so proud of my achievement. I always thought I wasn’t good under time pressure but this has helped me believe that I can do it.
“In August I opened my own flower shop called ‘Flowers on the Green’ at Yew Tree Farm, in Wootton Wawen near Henley-in-Arden, so this proves that I can handle stress and still produce good floristry which is so important in business when you’re working to a deadline.
“I’d really like to thank my tutors at Warwickshire College, the BFA (British Florist Association) team at The Skills Show, the other competitors who were a great group of people and my friends and family who are a constant support.”
Claire and Emily have been supported by Jane Benefield, floristry lecturer at Moreton Morrell College who was also recently named Floristry Tutor of the Year by the BFA. She said, “I never doubted Claire’s ability at competing as she is a dedicated, forward-thinking and creative florist but we just didn’t know who she was up against and how she would cope under the time pressures at The Skills Show.
“Claire has the dedication to practice practical pieces over and over again as well as a willingness to experiment with new ideas. She takes on board every training opportunity and remains focused on each task.”
Claire follows in the footsteps of fellow Moreton Morrell College student Zoe Rowlinson who also picked up a Gold Medal in 2013. Jane said, “I feel very lucky to have taught all three of our students who have competed at The Skills Show in the last few years. They are all brilliant florists and a pleasure to have students who show such a willingness to learning and a dedication to developing their own techniques and styles.”
Moreton Morrell College offers a range of floristry courses. For more information call 0300 456 0049 or go to www.warwickshire.ac.uk/courses.