‘Skills rule, boys drool’: “Serious fun” at SLC as painting apprentices rise to “paste off” challenge

Two first year apprentices from West College Scotland (Clydebank) have set an event record as the fastest team to paste and hang three strips of wallpaper in a new skills competition launched this week (Tuesday, May 19th).
Speedy contenders, Darren McLeod (20) and Richie Stewart (20) bagged poll position in the ‘3 length challenge’ at South Lanarkshire College (SLC) when they clocked an impressive time of 1 min 48sec.


They beat 14 other painting and decorating apprentices (7 teams) who are in their second and third years, from SLC, Glasgow Clyde College (Anniesland) as well their fellow first year contenders from West College Scotland.

And they were a single second away from matching the baseline time set by SLC’s Painting Technician Cheryl Collins and fourth year apprentice Derek Neilson (pictured below).


The victors each took home an iPad mini, a joint prize, courtesy of event supporters Scottish Decorators’ Federation (SDF) – who created the concept for Scottish Apprenticeship Week – and Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) as well as an SLC goodie bag.

Darren McLeod said: “I was shocked we won, being in the first group up. I’m more competitive than I thought and we’ll definitely be back next year.”

Richie Stewart said: “It was a good laugh.”

Spurred on by the competitive vibe in the room, a final “paste off” between SLC and West College Scotland with respective lecturers Jim McLean and John Currie saw an unofficial record of 1min 5seconds set by SLC.


Cheryl Collins, who was Jim McLean’s teammate (pictured celebrating above) and has 17 years on-the-job experience under her belt, said: “We’re really up for trying to beat the Guinness World record of 1min 16 secs next year.”

Ian Rogers, Chief Executive of SDF, said: “It’s great to see the lads enter the spirit of the day and rise to the challenge. Paper hanging is a difficult skill and not everyone’s cup of tea so this kind of competition that promotes friendly rivalry is a great way to get apprentices out of their comfort zone and see what they can do.”

Brian Hannigan, Curriculum Manager at SLC said: “The atmosphere changed from a wee laugh to serious fun when the students saw the prizes on offer and clocked the competitive times. They rolled up their sleeves and put on their game faces. We have definitely started something with friendly inter-college rivalry between both apprentices and staff.”

Phil Ford, Strategic Partnerships Director for CITB Scotland said: “This competition is a fun and engaging way of teaching apprentices valuable skills which they will need in the workplace. Congratulations to Darren and Richie for winning the prizes and to all who entered into the spirit of the competition on the day.”

Stuart Sanderson, Contracts Manager, Mitie Painting who attended the event, said: “It’s great to see the boys working together, especially with the added pressure of the clock and the crowd. It’s a great experience and a step in the right direction to encourage more paper hanging in college.”


Issued by JK Consultancy on behalf of Scottish Decorators’ Federation. For further information please contact:

SDF: Jenny Kumar – 07989 557198 / jenny@jkconsultancy.com

CITB: Lauren Ferson – 07867 192479 / lauren.ferson@citb.co.uk

South Lanarkshire College: 01355 807639 / brian.hannigan@slc.ac.uk

Notes to editor

  • Photo caption – top image: (l-r) Joe McLean of UCATT, Richie Stewart, SDF’s Ian Rogers, Darren McLeod and Brian Hannigan of SLC.
  • The Guinness World record for a similar exercise is a speedy 1minute 16.435 seconds, achieved by P&D professionals Phil Burgess and Simon Whitaker on 16 November 2011.
  • Two person teams took part with one person pasting and the second hanging the paper.
  • Each college had its own competing bay, timekeeper and adjudicator.
  • The wallpaper lengths (with a vertical stripe not requiring matching) for each competing team was pre-cut
  • Timing started when the first paste contacted the paper and ended when the bottom of the third length was cut.