AN ENGINEERING whiz was finally able to compete on the world stage following a series of delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a hard-hitting motorbike accident.
Abi Stansfield, from Ribble Valley, Lancashire, had trained at Coleg Cambria’s Bersham Road site in Wrexham for almost two years before heading to Germany for the WorldSkills 2022 finals.
She just missed out on a medal in the CNC Milling category, but with the support of Cambria lecturer Adam Youens – a CNC Training Manager for WorldSkills – displayed courage and an abundance of skill and talent having recovered from a motorbike accident last autumn.
“After training for three years I was so proud to finally be able to represent my country and hold up the flag, it was a dream come true,” said Abi, who works as a toolmaker at BAE Systems, Blackburn.
“Sadly, I just missed out on a medal, but it was an incredible experience, one that can never be taken away from me.”
Adam congratulated her on showing resilience throughout the pandemic and adapting when the Shanghai WorldSkills competition was cancelled because of Covid-19.
“Abi’s journey has been a long one, starting at the national competition in 2019 when she won bronze and was chosen to be part of Squad UK,” he said.
“She would spend more than 18 months training with three others who were contesting that category – mainly at our Bersham Road site, where facilities include all of the latest, state-of-the-art machinery – for the one place to represent the UK in Shanghai.
“In 2021 she was chosen to attend the EuroSkills competition, and again another setback happened when the UK chose not to attend because of the pandemic.
“A month later she was in a motorbike accident that damaged her knee, but through all of this she maintained her focus and drive and continued to train from home or online as much as she could.”
Adam added: “Abi worked hard on her knee rehabilitation after she had surgery to fix it, which helped her get back on her feet and start training for the Special Edition competition in Leonberg, Germany, just weeks ago.
“Unfortunately, she missed out on a medal by one point, but she has been amazing throughout all of this and competed at the highest level in the world – we are all so proud of her.”
Cambria will itself host a WorldSkills final in the coming days, the Manufacturing Team Challenge finals at Bersham Road.
Learner Experience and Enterprise Manager Rona Griffiths praised Abi for her effort and Adam for his support of engineering learners.
“This is a fantastic story of skill development because Covid-19 didn’t stop Abi and Adam, but rather ignited their ambition and passion to strive for something beyond the imagination of most people in lockdown,” she said.
“She missed out on a medal by a slither of a point but is an incredible role model for all young engineers, especially females.”
Rona added: “I think it’s testament to Adam’s great skills as an educator and advocate for vocational skill development. He truly is an ambassador for skills excellence and the benefit that skills competitions can bring to young people.”
For more news and information from Coleg Cambria, visit www.cambria.ac.uk.