A CONSTRUCTION trainee from Blackburn has been named the best young painter and decorator in the country.

Thomas Regan, 20, won the national final of the painting and decorating category in SkillBuild, the UK’s largest multi-trade competition.

He beat 10 other finalists in the category, sponsored by Darwen firm Crown Paints. More than 1,000 entrants took part in 14 regional heats to make it to the national finals of the competition, run by CITB-ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council and the Industry Training Board.

Thomas, representing Accrington and Rossendale College, both as a student and an apprentice employee, was announced the winner at the closing awards ceremony, at Preston Guild Hall. He received a trophy from celebrity builder Tommy Walsh, and a £1,000 cheque from Crown Paints marketing director Liz Hickson.

Thomas said: “I’m absolutely delighted. It’s great to have won.

“The competition was tough, but it’s been worth all the hard work and preparation. I’d like to thank Accrington and Rossendale College for all their support and help, and also everyone at SkillBuild for a great competition.”