Minster apprentice stonemason wins gold at WorldSkills UK

A young apprentice stonemason at York Minster was named as one of the UK’s best young apprentices and students at the National Finals of the WorldSkills UK Live competition at the NEC Birmingham last weekend.

James Digger aged 20, received a gold award for his exceptional skills. He was one of more than 500 apprentices and students competing in over 70 different disciplines, all battling to be the best in the UK. Participating in WorldSkills UK competitions equips young people with the world-class skills that they will need to help UK businesses compete in the global economy. More than 83,000 young people registered for the WorldSkills UK event.

James has been an apprentice stone mason in the Minster’s renowned Stoneyard since 2017. He studied at York College and completed his stonemasonry course in July 2019. James has recently commenced the Cathedral Workshop Fellowship programme which will complete in 2021.

Commenting on his achievement, The Right Revd Dr Jonathan Frost, Dean of York said: “The whole Minster Community is delighted for James. This gold award is a wonderful testimony to his exceptional skill and hard work. We are so proud of him.”

Alex McCallion, Director of Works and Precinct at York Minster said: “James was in competition with some of the UK’s most talented young stone masons. To have emerged with a gold award is a triumph. We are immensely proud of him and look forward to supporting him in the next phase of the competition.”

Those taking part in the competitions will go through to the selection process for a place in the UK squad that will travel to China for the prestigious international competition, WorldSkills Shanghai in May 2021.

Ben Blackledge, Deputy CEO of WorldSkills UK, said: “This is a life-changing moment for these young people. They have already won regional competitions and now their National Finals.

“They are the new generation of high flyers that will give UK employers a competitive edge. We couldn’t be prouder of each and every one of them – the standard of competition could not have been higher.”