A teenager who has proved himself as one of the top plumbing and heating apprentices in the UK is now looking forward to demonstrating his skills on the world stage.

Matthew Barton, an apprentice from Kendal College, has won a place on the UK squad for the 2019 WorldSkills Finals in Russia after a successful run in the UK contests.

The 19-year-old, who works for his father’s plumbing and heating business, WE Barton, in Lancaster, won the WorldSkills UK regional heat in Leeds and then gained a bronze medal in the WorldSkills UK finals at the NEC in Birmingham.

Matthew impressed the judges in the tough pipework challenges, including creating a small central heating system and a hot/cold water installation, all completed under test and timed conditions.

He earned a place with the UK team who will work towards the global contest in Kazan, Russia in August 2019.

The WorldSkills Finals bring together students from more than 70 countries. Matthew, who is three-and-half-years into the training route, is looking forward to going to the WorldSkills training camps to further his skills.

He will soon be going to Bangor for four days with other UK team members.

The top apprentice said: “I’m honoured and I can’t wait to start the training and to go to Russia. It seems a long way off, but it won’t be.

“It’s a challenging competition, and the national final was even more so.

“It’s been a great experience and I’ve been able to use those skills in my job. My dad is really pleased.

“Kendal College and my tutor John Ladell have been great and really supportive.

"College funded me to go to the competitions and I appreciate that.”

Matthew knew that the apprenticeship route was best for him, he said: “I knew that I didn’t want to go onto sixth form. My dad is in the construction industry and I thought I would try it, and I really enjoy it.

“An apprenticeship is a great start to a career, you earn while you are learning.

There are a lot of students at university struggling for money and apprentices are earning money and studying.

“It’s worked out well for me and it’s good working with my dad.”

John Ladell, Matthew’s plumbing lecturer at Kendal College, has congratulated his student on the “outstanding achievement” from the relatively small construction department.

He said the staff team “thrive to produce the highest quality tradesmen and women".