One of the highlights of this year's Winter Party was the award of the Decorator of the Year. This year's overall winner entered the contest for the first time this year and walked away with the biggest prize on the night.
Trevor Mangan has been in the business for almost 30 years, and we spoke to him to find out more about his business and the project that the judges were so impressed by. So how did he get into the industry?
"I started back in 1989. My mate asked me if I'd go and help him do a couple of weeks' work on a job for McCarthy and Stone, and that was it really - I never went back! I ended up working with his boss for about a year…and then got a job with a local old, traditional decorating firm. I was with them for about three years and then I started on my own until about 2005. I got a little bit fed up with decorating so came out of the business, went into sales repping. I then got fed up with the '9-5' and decided to go back into decorating in 2014."
Having been back in the business for a few years, what promoted Trevor to enter this year's competition?
"I was talking to my customer about the Decorator of the Year and she said: 'why don't you enter this?' I thought I'd got nothing to lose so it was purely by chance, the first time I had entered! The hardest part was choosing which photographs to send in. My customer sent me a nice report, her homeowner report was really good - it was knowing which bits of information to put in."
Trevor's project involved the redecoration of a large kitchen. He says: "The customer was bored with her kitchen units and just wanted them redone. Her starting point was she had a blue glass splashback behind her hob and she wanted to bring that into the kitchen - she wanted to make that a focal point and then make the units round the edges not so dominant. She picked a little green wallpaper for a feature wall, and then picked out the colours from that - a blue and a green - for the walls on the other two sides."
"She was the perfect customer - one of those customers that when you walk in they make you feel like part of the family." Trevor added.
On the night, Trevor took home both the 'Interior Project between £2,000 and £3,999' category and the overall prize. He won £1,500 in Bonusbond vouchers, a trophy, and the Decorator of the Year title. Was he surprised to win?
"Beginner's luck, really. The money is a bonus - the prestige of winning is enough. The vouchers are the cream on top."
Even though Trevor has been in the business for nearly three decades, he understands the value of constantly updating his skills - and he's no stranger to the Dulux Academy.
"When you first opened the Dulux Academy I went up there because you did a few free courses. I did the social media one - that was good - also, I did a couple of business ones - they were really good too, they really helped me. I want to try and do a couple of spray courses - a Select Decorator near me has done a couple of them and he says they're worth doing."
Having won this prestigious award at his first attempt, what advice does Trevor have for other Select Decorators thinking of entering next year?
"Honestly, I would encourage anybody to. I didn't think I'd have a chance, I just thought I was doing what everybody else does - I didn't think I was doing anything special. If I can win, anybody could win. Even if you don't win a trophy you still have a good night out - meet a few people, have a few drinks. Met the Dulux dog! It was nice to put some faces to names - it was great."