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Fashion students are a cut above

Designers from Somerset college win gold medals in Europe-wide competition

Designers from Somerset college win gold medals in Europe-wide competition

Two degree students have come home from The Netherlands with gold medals after their dress designs earned them the top fashion prize at the inaugural EuroSkills competition last week.

It took Hilary Wells, 20, and Victoria Griffiths, 22, of Somerset College of Arts and Technology, nine months of research to produce four designs for summer dresses for the new Europe-wide competition, which will be held every two years.

The students had to wait for the judges to pick one of the four designs before having two and a half days to produce a mock-up to go on a mannequin and then the finished garment.

The chosen dress - a design in black - was then selected as the best from competition across Europe.

Gary Mills, their tutor, said: "I am over the moon for the girls. They worked so hard against stiff competition to walk away with the gold medal. We are all so proud of them.

"We have highly talented undergraduates at Somerset College."

The college's fashion department, which has close ties with Plymouth University, has a strong reputation in national shows, including Clothes Show Live and Graduate Fashion Week, Mr Mills said.

"Even Jeff Banks quoted us as one of the top five fashion educators in the UK. Now we've proved we're world class."

The EuroSkills 2008 competitions, which was held in Rotterdam, saw more than 400 participants from 31 countries demonstrating their abilities in more than 40 trades. There were 40,000 live spectators. Sponsors included the European Union, Toyota and Microsoft.

Hilary, from Bristol, said: "We've been preparing for nine months for this competition. We have really increased our skill levels in various different areas which will be essential for working in industry.

"The competition opened our eyes to what would be needed in industry as we had to prepare everything to minute detail.

"We had to present to the judges as though they were industry buyers. It was a really nerve-racking but enjoyable competition."

Victoria, from Abergavenny, said: "It's amazing, it's just like winning the Olympics. EuroSkills was a tough competition in a highly pressurised environment.

"We didn't know the standard of the other competitors, but it was exciting to see how they were taught and worked differently.

"It was so much fun and well worth it in the end."

The girls' gold medals were among eight brought home to the UK. Host nation the Netherlands won the greatest number of golds.

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