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Royale’s apprentice Dominic Dray beats country-wide competition to take gold in the SkillFRIDGE Challenge

Apprenticeships are vital to the trades, and they’re a great way for companies like us to help give the next generation a head-start in a rewarding career.

Our industry is a challenging one to get into. The many certifications and regulations – not to mention the differences between individual units and models – mean an apprentice has a lot to learn, remember and recall on the spot during their work.

It’s our role in the apprenticeship relationship to be encouraging and informative. Air conditioning and refrigeration skills aren’t learned overnight, after all!

Imagine how proud we were, then, when our very own apprentice Dominic Dray entered and won the SkillFRIDGE RACHP skills competition! Topping the charts while working and studying full-time shows just how special this young man is, and we’re proud to have him in the Royale family.


How it all started

Dominic joined us as an apprentice in August 2017. He was busy from day one, with a local training agency in Newbury helping to organise a schedule of college study and courses that would fit around his on-the-job work with our team.

It’s a lot to take in for a beginner. Juggling several different forms of study goes hand in hand with service calls to restaurants, offices, retail outlets and all other types of businesses.

It’s no mean feat to soak in the information you need to replace, repair and service equipment reliably, and Dom has exceeded our expectations at every point in his time with us so far, already graduating to helping the team with high-profile jobs such as recent work on a listed building and restaurant.

As a family business, customer service means everything to us. As if the technical side wasn’t enough, we’ve also found Dom to be a great face for the company when meeting, greeting and helping our customers. Traditional values mean a lot to us at Royale and seeing that in an apprentice is a special thing indeed.

For Dom, it’s been thumbs up so far. “I’ve always wanted to get into a trade, and this one offers a bit of everything. I like the challenge, and Royale feels more like a family than a job. I’m happy to be here and really pleased about how I did in the competition.” 


The SkillFRIDGE competition

RACHP – the refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pumping industry – has benefited for many years from the SkillFRIDGE competition. Sponsored by Toshiba and Carrier, it’s a valuable way to get apprentices and younger tradespeople involved in learning and developing themselves and their careers.

This year, participants from across the UK had a not-so-simple challenge: Install pipework in a fridge and wire it correctly and identify specific faults in an air-conditioning unit.

This is a real test of knowledge. Health and safety regulations, model-specific differences and the process of safely identifying and repairing an AC or fridge add up under a time limit to really test the participants. A range of companies pitched in, providing test rigs, leak detectors and a selection of required materials such as oxygen, acetylene, nitrogen and more.

Demonstrating again the know-how and skill he’s already developed during his time with us, Dominic scored himself the SkillFRIDGE gold medal and the title of SkillFRIDGE champion! Recognition also must be given to his training provider Eastleigh College, who have received the SkillFRIDGE Shield award following Dominic’s win.

We’re proud, to say the least. An achievement like this so early in Dominic’s career is a clear indicator that he’s in the right place and has the right skills and mindset to excel in the industry.

Well done Dominic!