Industry celebrates technicians at IRTE Skills Challenge awards

Winners of this year’s IRTE Skills Challenge have been announced at the Jaguar Experience centre in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham. The site is perhaps a fitting location to celebrate British vehicle engineering capabilities considering not only does it display the best of the iconic Jaguar Land Rover brand, but in its previous incarnation as the Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory, the Spitfire was made there.

IRTE Skills Challenge 2023 Awards, held at Jaguar Experience Visitor Centre, Castle Bromwich. © photograph by Graham Trott 2023.

The Skills Challenge takes place between 5 and 9 June at S&B Automotive Academy in Bristol, considered one of the country’s leading providers of automotive training and assessment services. The competition sees the sector’s engineering professionals compete in a series of electrical, mechanical and bodywork challenges.

Arriva and Go-Ahead London were the most successful operators at this year’s closely contested event, with each company winning four awards.

The event benefited from the support of its sponsors: FCL, Imperial Engineering, Knorr-Bremse, Teng Tools and Freeway.

“Even if I didn’t win at the Skills challenge, I would still be putting it on my CV that I took part” – Pawel Dudzeic

Winner of the Mechanical Technician award, Pawel Dudzeic of National Express’ West Bromwich depot, told B&CB: “I’m really pleased with myself. At first, I was hesitant to come out to the event. It was nerves, nerves about putting myself out there and competing. But I talked about it and I was honoured to be selected to compete. After being there at the competition with everyone, I started to feel more confident.”

On how it feels to lift his trophy, he said: “I’m extremely pleased, especially as I’m young; I’m 27. I passed my apprenticeship a couple of years back.”

His message to other technicians in the industry considering taking part in the Skills Challenge is: “Just go for it and do your best. No matter if you’re a winner or a runner-up, you can be proud you’ve been chosen. Even if I didn’t win at the Skills challenge, I would still be putting it on my CV that I took part.”

Among the winners were Richard Harrington, Go-Ahead Group’s Engineering Director and Head of its Zero Emission Centre of Excellence, win the Philip Margrave Memorial Award in recognition of his 39-year (to date) career in the industry. The award was presented by Lewis Margrave, son of Philip and Engineering Manager at Go Ahead London. It was collected on Richard’s behalf by Chris McKeown, Engineering Director at Go Ahead London.

Richard said: “Phil Margrave was a well-known industry legend and I am humbled to be associated with his name and Memorial Award. I am also delighted that Go-Ahead London, where I was Engineering Director for 12-years, has been publicly acknowledged for the outstanding quality of its personnel and vehicle maintenance.”

And the winners are…


Bodywork Apprentice

  • Runner-up – Hasan Girach, FirstBus
  • Winner – James Lockyer, Arriva


Electrical Apprentice

  • Runner-up – Sophy Smith – FirstBus
  • Winner – William Keith, Go-Ahead


Electric Driveline Apprentice

  • Runner-up – Tom Lees, National Express
  • Winner – Diego Duran Cuadros, Go-Ahead


Mechanical Apprentice

  • Runner-up – Hollie Smith, Arriva
  • Winner – Scott Blakesly, Go-Ahead



  • Runner-up – Aleksander Derkach
  • Winner – James Day, FirstBus


Outstanding Apprentice Team

Go-Ahead – Fabio Janota, Cameron Banton and Tiango Da Silva


DVSA Inspection Apprentice

  • Runner-up – Charles Burrows, Metroline
  • Winner – Hollie Smith


DVSA Inspection Technician

  • Runner-up – Morgan Bond, FirstBus
  • Winer – Harry Burns, trentbarton


Bodywork Technicians

  • Runner-up – John Buchan, Lothian Bus
  • Winner – Glen Kelly, Metroline


Electrical Technician

  • Runner-up – Ben Stacey, Go-Ahead
  • Winner – Barrie Lear, Arriva


Electric Driveline Technician

  • Runner-up – Luke Gorton, National Express
  • Winner – Joe Davis, Metroline


Mechanical Technician

  • Runner-up – Arren Pidden, FirstBus
  • Winner – Pawel Dudzeic, National Express


Master Technician

  • Runner-up – Andy Knowles, FirstBus
  • Winner – Chris Bissett


Philip Margrave Award

  • Richard Harrington, Go-Ahead London


Judge’s Choice Award

  • Winner – Thang Tang, FirstBus


Qualified Team

  • Arriva – Barrie Lear, Anthony Denman and Wayne Stanton

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