Painting and decorating student Jordan Jeffers has claimed victory in the grand final of Dulux Decorator Centre’s ‘Student Decorator of the Year’ 2015 competition.

Mr Jeffers, of Southern Regional College’s Newry campus, is the first winner to come from Northern Ireland in the competition’s eight-year history.

Sophie Walters from North West Kent College was runner-up to Mr Jeffers, while Sarah Bromley of Swindon College was awarded third place.

Mr Jeffers, 20, competed against 10 other students from across the UK to win the title. The two-day national final, which took place on 1 and 2 July at Edinburgh College, tested students’ attention to detail and brushwork skills honed on painting and decorating courses.

The final saw 11 talented painting and decorating students from all over the UK go head to head, each of whom secured places after winning respective regional heats.

In the final students demonstrated skills including wallpapering, sign writing, cutting in, and application of special effects, which were each judged by three leading industry experts as well as a Dulux Select decorator.

As well as receiving the ‘Student Decorator of the Year’ accolade, Mr Jeffers was awarded £1,000 and products from supplier sponsors at a black tie gala dinner and presentation ceremony. The event was hosted at the Dalmahoy Marriott Hotel in Edinburgh.

Beverley Whitehead, marketing manager at Dulux Decorator Centre, said: "We have held this competition for eight years running and the level of enthusiasm and talent gets better and better each year. It was a pleasure to see the attention to detail and amazing brushwork of all the students.

"Jordan’s practical final piece impressed the judges, and the title of ‘Student Decorator of the Year’ is well deserved. We wish Jordan luck in his future career!

"The competition is a great opportunity for both full-time students and work-based apprentices to not only gain valuable contacts in the industry, but also receive the recognition they deserve for their hard work and technical ability."

Following the prestigious win, Mr Jeffers said: “I’m really excited to be named ‘Student Decorator of the Year’, especially as the standard was so high. It was great to be involved in the competition – it was good practice to work to tight timescales and try out different painting and decorating techniques in a competitive setting.”

College lecturer Patrick Maguire added: "We are really proud of Jordan – it’s a fantastic achievement and a testament to all his hard work at the college. The title of Student Decorator of the Year is a great honour and will be a real help when kick starting a career in the industry.”