The POTY 2018 competition is now closed. We look forward to returning in 2019 – watch this space!

Taunton’s Steve Bartin named 2018 UK Plumber of the Year

  • 24 September 2018

Somerset plumber triumphs in nationwide competition

Steve Bartin, from Taunton, has been crowned the 2018 UK Plumber of the Year, in the nationwide competition run by JT, Bristan and Wolseley UK.

The 2018 competition saw hundreds of plumbers enter from all over the country, receiving a record number of applications, with Steve taking the crown and his part of a £10,000 prize pot.

A judging panel made up of experts from JT, Bristan, Wolseley UK and WaterSafe shortlisted three plumbers in each region across the UK (North England, South England, Midlands and West, London, Wales and Scotland) based on their skills, qualifications and experience. The lucky 18 then went head-to-head to win public votes where the six individuals with the highest number of votes went through to the final stage.

In the final stage, which involved a 30-minute interview with the judging panel at Bristan HQ in Tamworth, Steve managed to impress the judges with his qualifications, his experience and his views on the future of the industry.

Steve has been in the industry since he left school 23 years ago. He started his working life as an apprentice, and is now offering a helping hand to the next generation and advocates apprenticeships having already supported three young adults on the scheme.

Plug and Chain, Steve’s Taunton-based business, specialises in the design, supply and installation of bathrooms; from changing a tap washer, to plumbing a full heating system.

Along with his title as UK Plumber of the Year for 2018, Steve also wins his share of the huge prize pot which includes JT, Bristan and Wolseley UK products, plus prizes from Proper Job Beer, Rothenberger, Job Man Workwear, BigWipes and HomeBoost.

Now in its fourth year, the competition called on plumbers nationwide to enter in a bid to be crowned Britain’s finest. The competition takes place over the course of six months and is designed to reward and recognise the remarkable talents within the UK’s plumbing industry and asks entrants to demonstrate their plumbing, service and business skills.

The regional winners and other finalists in the competition were:

  • Scott White, Scotland
  • Matthew Stoves, North of England
  • John Nicholls, Midlands and East
  • James Elmy, London
  • Robbie Hawkins, Wales

Speaking of his win, Steve said: “I’m absolutely delighted to win the competition, it’s an honour to call myself the UK Plumber of the Year. I’ve been in the industry for 23 years and I feel like all those extra hours and dedication have paid off. I’d like to thank everyone who voted for me in the second stage of the competition and if anyone needs an award-winning plumber in Somerset, you know where I am!”

John Schofield, Sales and Marketing Director at JT, added: “We’d all like to congratulate Steve on his win – it was well deserved. The standard of the competition rises each year, so he should be really proud of himself as all of the finalists were extremely impressive.

“On behalf of JT, Bristan, Wolseley UK and WaterSafe, I’d like to thank everyone that entered and say well done to all the finalists. We’re looking forward to seeing what the 2019 competition has to offer!”

(left to right) Phil Viner (Wolseley UK), Simon Mepsted (Bristan), Steve Bartin (2018 UK Plumber of the Year), Chris Sneath MBE (WaterSafe), John Schofield (JT)

Shortlist revealed for the UK Plumber of the Year 2018 Competition

  • 16 August 2018

Nationwide search narrowed down to 18 as finalists begin Vote for Me campaign

£10k Prize Fund up for grabs

The UK Plumber of the Year 2018 competition (@UKPOTY), launched by JT, Bristan and Wolseley, has revealed the 18 finalists shortlisted for the prestigious competition.

With over double the amount of entries than the previous year, Watersafe, the official judging partner of the competition, had the tricky task of selecting three finalists from each of the six chosen regions (North England, South England, Midlands and West, London, Wales and Scotland) to go into the next stage of the competition.

The public will now vote for who they believe deserves the title in each region, with the six regional finalists going through to the grand final to be crowned Plumber of the Year 2018.

The final 18, in no particular order, are:

  • Gus Cairney – Scotland
  • Ian Williamson, Scotland
  • Scott White, Scotland
  • Dave Hignett, North England
  • Matthew Stoves, North England
  • James Nippers, North England
  • Andrew Riley, Midlands and West
  • John Nicholls, Midlands and West
  • Neil Bamford, Midlands and West
  • Steven Davies, Wales
  • Robbie Hawkins, Wales
  • Murray Price, Wales
  • Sam Baker, London
  • Xohan Duran, London
  • James Elmy, London
  • Mark Majury, South of England
  • Ross King, South of England
  • Steve Bartin, South of England

Now in its fourth year, the competition called on plumbers nationwide to enter in a bid to find Britain’s finest. The competition is designed to reward and recognise the remarkable talents within the UK’s plumbing industry and ask entrants to demonstrate their plumbing, service and business skills.

John Schofield, Sales & Marketing Director of JT, said: “We’re now in the fourth year of the competition and with a record number of entries, we have shortlisted three plumbers in six UK regions to battle it out. I wish everyone the best of luck in the next phase of the competition and I’d also like to pass on thanks to our friends at Watersafe for judging the entries, which is always a tricky task!”

The six plumbers with the most regional votes will be invited to an interview session with the judging panel,made up of experts from JT, Bristan, Wolseley and Watersafe, who will then decide the national winner.  The UK Plumber of the Year 2018 will win £10,000 worth of prizes, including JT, Bristan and Wolseley products/vouchers plus products from Proper Job Beer Rothenberger, CK Tools, Salamander, Filplastic, First Stop and BigWipes.

5 bathroom trends to look out for this summer

  • 20 July 2018

Consumer tastes are constantly changing, and home interior trends impact the bathroom like all other rooms in the house. Retailers are under pressure to inspire their customers and meet the demand for must-have taps and showers. So, what’s hot this summer for people looking to turn their dream bathroom into reality? Matt Hicks, head of product at Bristan, gives the lowdown on five trends retailers must not miss.

Consumers are becoming more trend-aware when it comes to their bathrooms, and this means they’re more willing than ever to splash out on taps and showers. The advantage for retailers is that they are presented with ideal upsell opportunities, but only if they are stocking the right products that match ongoing trends in bathroom design.

Certainly, there’s plenty to catch the eye in 2018. We’re seeing a number of new trends emerge around personal wellbeing and individual needs, and the continuation of some buying patterns that have been around for a few years now.

At Bristan, we use the latest consumer insight to develop products that can help retailers navigate this tricky process of what products to stock. So, here’s our down our top five bathroom trends for 2018.

Splashing out

The market for bathroom products continues to grow. In the UK it achieved growth of around 3 per cent last year, and overall growth is forecast at 12 per cent to 2021.

The sector is booming in part because aesthetics are continuing to exert a notable influence on consumer choice. There’s a demand for quality bathroom products that have additional features from the standard. Some digital showers, for example, offer clever digital control and display systems that deliver precise thermostatic showering at the touch of a button.

Products that are backed with a strong warranty are also popular with consumers, because if they’re spending more on products, they expect them to last.

Personal well-being

Designed with maximum comfort in mind, the latest bathroom solutions inspire with many clever details to ensure a comfortable and user-friendly bathroom experience.

With spas and well-being retreats more popular than ever, some consumers are keen to replicate this feeling in their bathroom. Style and ambience can make a big difference and uncluttered, minimal designs are ever-popular.

A good shower is a key part of the bathroom experience and this year we’re seeing demand for oversized shower heads, as well as showers which provide features such as waterfall settings and LED mood lighting, which create a sense of total relaxation.

Metallic design

Popular colours for bathrooms have changed drastically over the years – from the avocado green of the 1970s, to the white minimalism of recent years. However, we’re now seeing resurgence in demand for statement colours as a means of differentiation, with higher quality finishes and contemporary styling.

In response, Bristan has created its Metallix range. Available across five different ranges in four distinctive finishes – Copper Radiance, Silver Sparkle, Champagne Shimmer and Graphite Glisten – high quality taps like these give a real sense of style, as they’re a feature most people notice right away.


A recent survey has found that newly built homes in Britain are nearly a third smaller than equivalent homes built in the 1970s. This has had an impact on the bathroom and space-saving ideas are now a priority for many.

In fact, research conducted by Bristan found that space restrictions are a leading consideration during the planning phase for almost 40 per cent of retail customers, second only to budget on 56 per cent.

A small bathroom can still be stylish, practical and, with the right know-how, space-efficient. We’re seeing a growing trend towards wet room designs and touches such as recessed mixer showers which can make a real difference.

Inclusive living

Multigenerational households are on the increase in the UK due to a rise in young adults still living with their parents. With more than 1.8 million households containing at least two adult generations, consumers must now consider the needs of a variety of ability levels.

As a result, there’s significant demand for inclusive bathroom products such as low-level or walk-in baths, and thermostatic and lever operated tapware controls, that are both practical and easy to use.

The inclusive living trend is expected to be boosted by the government’s Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG), which is set to increase to over £500 million in 2019/20. This fund is designed to help meet the cost of adapting a property where a disabled person lives with improvements such as accessible showering facilities.

The bathroom continues to be a key element of our homes, playing a much greater role beyond that of its traditional function as just another part of the daily routine. For retailers, the aim must always be to stay on top of these trends by offering a wide choice of products that meet different needs.

Bristan is the largest shower and tap company in the UK. For further information please visit

How to protect your hands – your most valuable tools

  • 26 June 2018

With grime a major cause of skin disease, Big Wipes are a must for heating and plumbing engineers.

More than most trades, heating and plumbing engineers understand that grime builds up easily and the consequences can be extremely irritating on your hands and skin. Whether you are working in bathrooms or kitchens, very often the types of muck that plumbers encounter are extremely unpleasant. Heating engineers who install fossil fuel appliances, such as oil boilers, know that if accidentally spilt, substances like oil can be a real nuisance to clean up not to mention an irritant on cracked skin.

Hands are without doubt an installer’s most valuable tools, but thousands of tradespeople spend their days with their hands caked in dirt or harsh substances without having access to the facilities to clean them up. Even when soap and water are available, they just won’t shift the majority of modern construction and maintenance products. PU foam, silicone and varnishes are nasty stuff to get on your hands and without the ability to remove them quickly, can cause debilitating skin problems.

According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures, there are over 20,000 people suffering from work‐related skin diseases with around 7,000 new cases diagnosed every year. Solvents, cement, resins and cutting fluids are some of the most common causes of irritant contact dermatitis, so it is no wonder construction workers have one of the highest rates of developing this skin disease – something that can severely affect a person’s ability to work.

Heating and plumbing engineers therefore need easy access to a high‐quality hand cleaner and Big Wipes, industrial strength cleaning wipes, are the answer. Stored in tubs, (which can be kept in the door buckets of vans, toolboxes/toolbags, or on van racking systems with a special Big Wipes wall and van bracket), they are highly portable. Big Wipes can remove dirt and construction materials from hands, tools and surfaces swiftly and more thoroughly than soap and water.

One of the best ways to avoid contact dermatitis is to clean hands and apply a moisturiser afterwards, so it is important to point out that the best wipes will include moisturisers that protect hands. The Big Wipes 4×4 formulation is not only preservative free and mainly waterbased but also has four powerful cleaning agents plus four dermatologically tested skin conditioners: Aloe Vera, Lanolin, Vitamin E and Glycerin ‐ all helping to nourish and protect the skin. The Big Wipes range has been assessed to the latest EU Regulation 1223/2009 for cosmetic products with zero levels of irritation recorded during controlled testing by dermatologists. In addition, the Big Wipes formulation is biodegradable and also offers >99.9% antibacterial protection for skin.

There are three different types of Big Wipes 4×4: red top Heavy‐Duty Quad fabric wipes are double sided with an abrasive side to remove stubborn grime and a smooth side to soak up the muck; the black top Multi‐Purpose wipe is made from a three layered, non‐woven quilted fabric which makes it highly tear resistant and super tough; and the green top Multi‐ Surface wipes are fantastic at cleaning all surfaces, exceptionally absorbent and being made from a natural material, can be thrown on the compost heap after use.

Using Big Wipes 4×4 Power Spray, a powerful, fast‐acting antibacterial cleaning spray, is ideal for pre‐treating larger areas such as walls, floors or window frames before wiping them free of dirt. Its speedy removal of muck means you can also save time and money by fixing accidents quickly and effectively. This is especially useful to plumbers when they are making good, or when accidents and spillages happen from time to time.

Taking into account the health and safety implications of getting rid of grime and as part of the hand care solution package Big Wipes provides for heating and plumbing installers, a hand cream is also available. This is a high performance treatment cream that rapidly relieves dry and rough skin, helps strengthen the skin’s barrier function and improves its ability to absorb and hold moisture. Used regularly, the hand cream helps restore the skin’s smoothness, softness and flexibility by helping the skin retain moisture, keeping it soft, supple and youthful – and bringing much needed relief to dry, cracked skin.

In many ways, Big Wipes and Power Spray can be your first line of insurance against damage or making an “OK job” absolutely perfect. What’s more, many domestic clients will hire their plumbing and heating engineers on professional appearance, and tidy tradespeople, who have the means to clean work areas and themselves up, surely have an advantage over those who don’t!

For more information about Big Wipes visit

What makes a good plumber?

  • 22 June 2018

As he returns to the judging panel for UK Plumber of the Year 2018, Chris Sneath, chairman of WaterSafe, shares his view on what makes a good plumber:

The most essential aspect of being a good plumber is to have the appropriate qualifications (in most respects a qualification to NVQ level 2 as a minimum), practical skills and to be competent and professional.

However, it is equally important that the customer, whether domestic or commercial, trusts and has confidence in the plumber they are seeking advice from.

Membership of a trade association or professional institute will support this, as they give reassurance that their members are reliable and recommended.

To be a good plumber you have to be competent in design; competent in your selection of materials; competent in ensuring advice is given about conservation and energy generation; competent in having practical installation knowledge and competent in ensuring that what you advise will be safe and efficient when it’s put into operation.

It’s also essential to invest time in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to make sure you’re up to date to meet changes in requirements for the future.

A good plumber should always strive to ensure a healthy future for the industry and, wherever and whenever possible, support the recruitment and training of new plumbers.

Finally, those plumbers who are approved on the national register WaterSafe should remember their responsibilities towards the scheme and make sure they continue to meet all the membership criteria – such as maintaining suitable insurance and a customer complaint and redress system.

The standard of entrants for the competition in 2017 was excellent and I look forward to meeting more outstanding plumbers at this year’s judging in September.

Good luck to everyone!

WaterSafe is a free online search directory funded by the UK water industry to help customers find approved, qualified plumbers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Plumbers approved through WaterSafe have specific training in the Water Fittings Regulations and Byelaws, to ensure they meet the strict legal requirements for installing water pipes and fitting. For information on becoming a member visit

Low water pressure? Pump up your mains water!

  • 12 June 2018

Low water pressure and flow is a common problem across the UK. However, by boosting the flow from your incoming mains, you can improve the performance of taps, showers and baths. And while many believe that the Water Supply and Fittings Regulations (1999) limit you from boosting your mains water supply without consent, Salamander Pumps is here to explain how you can easily improve the water flow around your house…

Government regulations state that pumped mains water must not exceed 12 litres per minute (l/m), however many households are experiencing a flow much below this. During busy times of the day, usually, first thing in the morning and early evening, when water demand is high, it’s quite common for the mains water pressure to dip for the whole street.

To help combat this, Salamander developed its HomeBoost mains water pump, in line with the Government regulations. Attached directly to your existing mains water supply the HomeBoost pump increases water pressure and flow up to 12 l/m, but not above.

The intelligent mains pump works by monitoring the water flow through the pump, only kicking into action when needed. If the water flow is already at 12l/m or more, the pump will stay in standby mode, meaning that pumped water flow will never exceed 12l/m.

The HomeBoost pump can also improve overall performance of combi boilers. Maintaining a constant flow to the boilers allows it to run more efficiently.

Not only this, operating at just 46dBA, the pump holds the Quiet Mark accolade, an international award from the UK Noise Abatement Society. The pump is also nice and compact, fitting into those tight, out-of-the-way spaces in your home.

For more information, visit

Take a look at our action-packed launch video with 2016 Shaun Scott! It’s EPIC!

  • 18 April 2018


This year we’ve teamed up with the guys at Expert Trades to create a unique film to launch the search to find the 2018 UK Plumber of the Year.

The team made the journey north, and then north again, to find our 2016 winner Shaun in all his glory to film this incredible video. It’s great to see Shaun doing so well – obviously all down to the competition!

Last year, Drew Styles from Wigan was crowned the 2017 UK Plumber of the Year.

  • 3 March 2018

Drew embarked on his career and lifelong love of plumbing at the grand old age of six, when he completed his first job with his grandfather.

Now 30, he runs his own business in Wigan, priding himself on offering his customers a wide range of services and delivering only the highest standard of work.

His commitment to his trade and determination to continue improving the quality of his services helped him win the 2017 UK Plumber of the Year competition.

Speaking of his win last year when he was crowned, Drew said: “I’m really thrilled to be crowned Plumber of the Year 2017 – I’ve had a blast in the competition and I’m really thankful to all the people who voted for me!

“I definitely recommend the competition as something plumbers should get involved in. The support has been overwhelming and the prizes are just the cherry on the cake. I always try to make sure the service I deliver is the highest quality and to receive recognition for that is amazing!”

Official Prize Partners Big WipesRothenbergerBoostProper JobJobmanchapter8shopvehicleliverysolutions
Official Sponsors JTBristanWolseley
Official Judging Partner Watersafe