Matthew Rutherford – an apprentice carpenter from Bangor, County Down – is crowned Screwfix Trade Apprentice 2024

Matthew Rutherford, an apprentice carpenter from Northern Ireland, has been named Screwfix Trade Apprentice 2024 champion

Matthew Rutherford, an apprentice carpenter from Bangor, County Down, who's currently employed by Laird Contracts Ltd, has been named Screwfix Trade Apprentice 2024 champion.

At just 19-years-old, Matthew successfully competed in the national final against nine other top apprentices from across the UK and Ireland. Fighting off fierce competition, Matthew walked away with the coveted trophy and a career-boosting prize bundle of tools, tech and training worth £10,000.

During the two-day final, which took place in London, Matthew wowed the esteemed panel of industry judges with his passion for carpentry, including representatives from Screwfix; the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC); the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE); and the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

After completing his A-Levels, Matthew was encouraged to attend University; however, knowing his true passion for carpentry, he decided to follow his dreams and enrolled at South Eastern Regional College in Newtownards to study Carpentry and Joinery.

During the final, Matthew spoke passionately about preserving and restoring the UK’s existing buildings, particularly residential properties that'd otherwise be demolished. Hoping to breathe new life into older properties, Matthew sees his future in the renovation market and wants to build his own portfolio of renovated properties for the Northern Ireland rental sector.

Matthew also won the judges over with his thoughtful response to the pre-final task – designing a tool that'd make a tradesperson’s life easier. Matthew devised a proposal for a product called ‘DoorMate’, which addressed the common problem of hanging doors correctly, impressing Screwfix Top Tradesperson winner and fellow carpenter, Astrid Arnold, who also joined the expert judging panel.


Matthew said: “I’m so honoured to be Screwfix Trade Apprentice 2024. When my name was announced as the winner, I couldn’t believe it; it felt completely surreal. I just love my job and I'm constantly inspired by my surroundings.

“I think a lot of people believe a career in the trades is for those who can’t get into university, but I’ve chosen to follow my passion for carpentry – I get to work on something different every day and it’s helped me grow my confidence and skills so much.

“I’m also the first Screwfix Trade Apprentice from Northern Ireland, so it feels great to be representing my country. I’d love to inspire others to take up a career in the trades, and I hope to be able to take on my own apprentices one day.”

With an incredibly high standard of finalists in this year’s competition, for the first time, the judges decided to award two Highly Commended recognitions at the final to Jindara Scott and Ethan Wynn, both of whom will receive a prize bundle worth £1,000.

Simon O’Mahony, Director of Marketing Communications for Screwfix, and also a judge at the final, said: “We're now in the 10th year of Screwfix Trade Apprentice, an important award that recognises the very best trade apprentices in the UK. This year more than ever, the calibre of entries was particularly high. Every one of our finalists is a credit to their trade and the future of the industry.

“Matthew’s considered approach to the tool design task and his passion for carpentry really impressed our judges. He demonstrated a genuine curiosity for his trade, passionate about renovating buildings and improving his knowledge and skills in order to be the best carpenter possible. I’m really looking forward to Matthew being an ambassador for Screwfix and apprenticeships in the trades. We urgently need to address the skills gap in the construction industry and nurturing fresh, new talent is key to achieving this.”

This year, Screwfix Trade Apprentice 2024 received 1,800 entries. To find out more about the award, click here.

Screwfix Trade Apprentice