Judging the 2018 UK Plumber of the Year – WaterSafe’s Chairman Shares his Thoughts

The 2018 UK Plumber of the Year has been announced as Steve Bartin from Taunton, Somerset. Following his regional win of the South of England crown, Steve went on to take the UK title after impressing the judges with his skills, knowledge and passion for plumbing.

We asked Chris Sneath MBE, Chairman of WaterSafe, to share his experience as a guest judge.


Image: (left to right) Phil Viner (Wolseley UK), Simon Mepsted (Bristan), Steve Bartin (2018 UK Plumber of the Year), Chris Sneath MBE (WaterSafe), John Schofield (JT)

How did it feel to return to the judging panel for this year’s competition?

It was again a privilege for me to participate in the judging of the six regional winners. The fact that there was a record-breaking 850 applications this year from plumbers keen to demonstrate their skills shows real commitment to raising standards in the industry.

How did the competition differ from last year?

This year the entrants were shortlisted by region, which worked really well. For someone such as myself, having been involved throughout my long career in the industry, it was refreshing to hear from plumbers who came from and represented specific areas of the country. Meeting finalist Robbie Hawkins from Wales, who covered an area of the Brecon Beacons, I was able to understand how coming from small rural areas required a particular understanding of local needs.

The presentations for the final this year were also more detailed – they not only included screen input but each finalist had also created their own file for each of the judges.

What was special about winner Steve Bartin?

Steve was quite unique – he was not only able to demonstrate his plumbing craft but also how he goes the extra mile. He even has his own bathroom showroom in his town – such a good way to communicate with his potential customers! I was also amazed to hear how he had time to help the local community with his charity work.

How was WaterSafe covered?

As with previous years there was coverage of WaterSafe, the UK register for approved plumbers, but more needs to be achieved to get contestants in the industry to understand that membership of WaterSafe not only improves standards but also protects the public from unqualified plumbers and sub-standard work.

A final word?

Congratulations to my fellow judges from Bristan, JT and Wolseley UK for organising such an inspiring competition. I wish Steve and his fellow regional winners and finalists all the very best for the future.

The regional winners and other finalists were:

  • Scott White, Scotland
  • Matthew Stoves, North of England
  • John Nicholls, Midlands and East
  • James Elmy, London
  • Robbie Hawkins, Wales

Image: (left to right) Phil Viner (Wolseley UK), Simon Mepsted (Bristan), Steve Bartin (2018 UK Plumber of the Year), Chris Sneath MBE (WaterSafe), John Schofield (JT)

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