Teenager Oliver Ogden is heading for national stardom in the bricklaying world.

The 18-year-old is through to the UK finals of the Guild of Bricklayers Apprentice of the Year competition after winning the 2018 north west regional title.

Oliver, who clinched the junior regional title last year, works at the Thorncliffe Road site in Barrow being developed by Esteem Homes.

He beat off competition from five other apprentice brickies to win the north west title which involved producing a piece of brickwork from a drawing they had been given only 15 minutes earlier.

He will face the same challenge in the final to be held in Surrey at the end of June.

His boss Dave Aspinall, site manager for all Esteem Homes' developments in the Furness area, said: “This award is absolutely well-deserved. Oliver is a very conscientious, honest, upstanding young man in the final year of a three-year apprenticeship.

"If he continues on to the Higher National Certificate, then I am certain he will have a good chance of success in that and a future career in the construction industry.

"He’s just one of those kids who really loves construction and he would be a success at whatever he turned his hand to.”

Oliver, who travels to Barrow from his home in Preston, said: “I’m delighted to have won this award and to be given the chance to have such a satisfying career in the building industry.

"I’ve enjoyed every moment of my time as an apprentice. Huge thanks go to Dave for all his help and support and I’m looking forward to working alongside him for a long time to come.”

Esteem Homes, which is building almost 1,000 homes at six sites in the Furness area, has already secured a skilled and committed workforce through its previous apprenticeship programmes which have seen 30 joiners, plumbers and bricklayers become fully qualified.

Another 10 apprentice bricklayers and 10 apprentice joiners are currently undergoing on-the-job training and the company is now looking for fresh talent.

"We want to recruit an additional 20 apprentices in bricklaying, joinery and plumbing," Dave said. "We need to ensure we have the best-trained tradespeople to carry out our building programme. We also need to close the skills gap in this country and equip our young people with the means to earn a good living."

Allen Gaskell, who has helped tutor Oliver in his role as Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) apprenticeship officer for the Furness area of Cumbria, is full of praise for the young brickie.

He said: "Oliver has been a joy to work with - enthusiastic, hardworking and committed. He travels from Preston every day for work yet is always on time and usually the last to leave.

"He always works promptly on actions given to him, is a credit to the CITB and his employer and a great role model to younger apprentices.

"I am responsible for approximately 80 apprentices in a variety of construction trade across Furness, including joiners, bricklayers, painters and plasterers working for small, medium and large construction employers. If only they were all like Oliver it would make my job a lot easier.

"I've worked with Dave Aspinall for about 20 years promoting and recruiting apprentices for Esteem Homes in all trades from 16-year-old school leavers to 30-year-old men wanting a career change.

"Like many of our apprentices, Oliver left school at 16 wanting a career in construction. Choosing bricklayer as preferred option, he signed up to a CITB apprenticeship, since when he has not looked back.

"He has completed his intermediate apprenticeship on target and is also on target to complete his advanced apprenticeship by July this year. And of course he has won these prestigious Guild of Bricklayers apprentice titles.

"If any young people are influenced or motivated by Oliver's story, they could follow the same path."

If you are interesting in an apprenticeship with Esteem Homes, contact the company's director Rick Entwistle on 01229 813036 or 07811 122732.