TWO local plumbing apprentices a have been hailed as rising stars in their trade.

Paul Marshall, from Stevenston, and Aiden McIlroy, from West Kilbride, were big winners at the Scotland and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF) Best Apprentice Plumber awards.

The pair were two of 17 apprentices honoured in the awards, with each winner the recipient of a £100 voucher for their achievement.

The accolade was awarded to aspiring tradespeople from each of Scotland's colleges - with Aiden attending Ayrshire College and Paul attending West College Scotland in Paisley.

Both are also apprentices in North Ayrshire, with Paul working for Stevenston-based James Frew Ltd and Aiden employed by Derek Campbell Plumbing Heating and Gas Services in Largs.

The awards gained by both were intended to highlight the talent and enthusiasm they bring to their journey towards the status of a qualified plumber.

Their achievement confirms to them that the career choice they made has been comprehensively vindicated.

SNIPEF’s accolade for the future stars of the profession comes at a time when plumbing and heating is increasingly being seen as making a valuable social contribution during the transition to net zero carbon as well as being a pathway to a rewarding and satisfying working life.

Fiona Hodgson, chief executive of SNIPEF, said: “This is the 32nd year that SNIPEF has been seeking out and rewarding the best talent among our stars. It is an accolade that they most certainly deserve.

“It is also a great tribute to employers, for the faith they have demonstrated in our people, but also to the apprentices themselves, the colleges which nurture their ambitions and the organisations such as SNIPEF which wholeheartedly support them.

“We were hard hit over the last few years, when uncertainty stalked the land, so it is very heartening not only that apprentice numbers are back up to where they were before the pandemic, but that the quality of people we are bringing in is so satisfying.”

Dale Thomson, apprentice training manager for SNIPEF, added: “The industry has always been very aware that its future lies in the skill and dedication of the people who are embarking on their careers at this time.

“Unlike a university further education, for which people may have to take out student loans, a plumbing apprenticeship offers the opportunity to gain a nationally recognised qualification and for apprentices to earn while they learn.

“The industry and employers within the sector are always on the lookout for people with the right qualities – initiative, enthusiasm and willingness to learn."

Anyone interested in learning more about the trade, and apprenticeships on offer, can find out more at