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A talented Windsor College student has been crowned one of the world’s top young visual merchandisers. Catherine Abbott, who recently completed a retail and merchandising display course at Windsor College and now works for Topshop, won the silver medal for visual merchandising at WorldSkills 2017 – the world’s largest international skills competition for young people.

Catherine (aged 21, from Reading) showcased her skills by designing, planning and creating a stunning window display as part of the four-day competition in Abu Dhabi. Beating contenders from across the globe, Catherine was presented with her medal at a prestigious Olympics-style closing ceremony on 19th October.

Catherine said: “I was in absolute shock when they called my name. This means so much within my industry, I’m sure this will lead to a bright future for me. Big sacrifices were made to get to this point, but it’s been worth all the hard work and effort.”

Catherine took part and triumphed in regional heats, a national final, a Team UK selection process and months of intensive training, to represent the UK in visual merchandising at the 44th WorldSkills Finals.

More than 1,200 young people, from over 50 nations, who are specialist in 51 different disciplines from hairdressing to aircraft maintenance plumbing to 3D Games design, competed for gold, silver and bronze medals. Picking up 20 medals, Team UK finished 10th in the medals table ahead of Germany and was the smallest team to make the global top 10.

Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, Anne Milton MP, who visited the competition to support WorldSkills UK and the team, said:

“I have been blown away by Team UK. They have done fantastically well – this is the UK competing on the World stage for skills and achieving great things.

 “There is a message here for parents – university is not the only option – the opportunities are boundless if they overcome any bias that they might have. We must ensure that the young apprentices here become an inspiration to others.

 “WorldSkills UK is doing a fantastic job supporting these young people – with thousands of hours of input. We need to put all that they are doing - the ethos of this competition, the spirit of these apprentices- into a bottle and sprinkle it across the UK.”

 The Retail and Merchandising Display Department at Windsor College is a centre of excellence for visual merchandising and display design. The courses are highly respected within the industry and former students have gone onto successful careers with leading retailers such as Harrods, John Lewis and Debenhams.

 Sue Leadbeater, lecturer at Windsor College, enthuses: “We are absolutely delighted for Catherine and we are all very proud of her. It has been great to see her develop her skills and grow in confidence. She is a talented individual with a bright future ahead of her.”

 Catherine follows in the footsteps of fellow Windsor College student Kirsty Hoadley, who won the gold medal in visual merchandising at WorldSkills London 2011.

 Windsor College is part of the Windsor Forest Colleges Group, which was formed in 2017 following a merger between East Berkshire College and Strode’s College in Egham. For further information on Windsor College and its wide range of creative courses, please click here or call 01753 793000.

Published in Retail Merchandising

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