The moment the British Airways captain wished Team UK the very best of luck as our flight departed for Brazil is a something I will never forget. After four years of training, I was finally ready to represent my country and compete at WorldSkills.
Nothing can quite prepare you for the size of the competition. As we arrived at Anhembi Parque in São Paulo, we were greeted by teams of young apprentices and learners from all over the world. In total, 1,192 competitors are competing in 50 skills in a space that measures 212,000 square metres. All competitors are staying in the same hotel, which is draped with the flags of the participating teams and there is an amazing buzz about the place. I have realised what it must feel like to be an athlete at the Olympic Games.
I first started my competition journey with WorldSkills UK Skills competitions over four years ago, when my lecturers at Westminster Kingsway College recommended that I get involved in the competitions to develop my practical skills.
After securing a place in Squad UK and then Team UK, I have worked closely with my training manager Michael Godfrey to help build on my skills and knowledge. As part of my training I competed in EuroSkills Lille 2014, where I beat 16 other young chefs from across Europe to win gold.
For me, competing has inspired me to work even harder in my career. When you are competing against other chefs you want to be the best. I have benefited hugely from the specialised training I have received from Michael Godfrey, including the chance to go to Rungis food market near Paris. It is every chef’s dream. The opportunities you get with WorldSkills competitions are amazing.
I work for Colette's at the Grove Hotel, and my employer recognises the value of skills competitions. They have been hugely supportive of my training and understand that the knowledge I get from competing can only help me in work.
I can honestly say that my WorldSkills UK experience has been life changing, I am so much more confident now. As the competition in São Paulo opens, I am determined to give it my all and make Team UK and my family proud.