Last week saw the WorldSkills global competition come to Britain and we were absolutely delighted to have an Interflora florist, Victoria Richards, representing the UK. After a very intense week of competition, Victoria finished joint 6th out of 18 competitors, our highest result in floristry at WorldSkills, and she also picked up a coveted Medallion of Excellence for her work. Well done Victoria!
Having spent a day at the event, held at the ExCel centre in London Docklands, I can testify that all the floristry contestants, from as far afield as New Zealand, Mexico and China, worked incredibly hard in very testing circumstances.
Competitors were all required to produce a range of designs, including hand tied bouquets, wreaths, bridal designs, floral jewellery and a planted arrangement. If that wasn’t challenging enough, there was also a surprise task, a mystery box, the contents of which wasn’t revealed until the very last minute.
Each contestant worked alone in a large booth with all of their materials and sundries arranged around them. This booth was open to the public at one end so that spectators could watch them at work. If having a constant audience commenting and taking photographs all day wasn’t enough, the floristry area was situated opposite the landscape gardeners, who, on the day I visited were busy building dry stone walls, interesting to watch, but very noisy!
Despite this, Victoria, along with the other floristry competitors, carried on completely absorbed in their tasks. Everyone had exactly the same flower materials and sundries and it was fascinating to walk around the booths, looking at the different styles and interpretations of the schedule that these talented young people came up with.
This is the third time that WorldSkills has come to the UK since its inception in 1946, and it was absolutely huge, with 150,000 visitors and 944 competitors from 51 countries competing in 46 different skills. If you’ve not heard of WorldSkills before, it is a unique global event, where young people between the ages of 18 and 22 compete to be the best of the best in their chosen skill. These ranged from Aircraft Maintenance to Web Design, taking in Welding, Mechatronics and Beauty Therapy along the way!
Each competitor undertakes extensive local and regional heats before being selected to their national teams, so as representatives at a global level they truly are the very best. Twenty two year old Victoria, from Herbarium Florist in Aldridge, West Midlands, worked incredibly hard in the run up to the competition and her excellent overall score helped to make Team UK finish 6th in the world, picking up four gold medals, two silver, six bronze and twelve Medallions of Excellence.
A closing ceremony at the O² arena gave all the competitors a chance to let their hair down and reflect on what was truly an incredible week. The next time WorldSkills comes to the UK, go, it’s an amazing experience.
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