THE country's first female sign writer is celebrating after winning her way through to the final of a national painting competition.

Sarah Bromley, 24, who works for Arkell’s last year entered the South West Dulux Decorator Centres’ Apprentice Of The Year award and beat off nine other competitors.

She will now head to Durham for the national final in June where she will try to beat all the other regional finalists.

“I was so surprised when I found out I'd won,”said Sarah, who is an apprentice at Swindon College.

“It took several days for it to actually sink in. I’m now just looking forward to the final, although I am a bit nervous about it.”

Sarah is doing a painting and decorating course at the college and it was her tutor Angela Woolford who convinced her to enter the competition.

“I wasn't going to do it but my tutor said that I should," said Sarah.

"She said that the intricate painting I need to paint the boards is ideal for the competition.”

On the day Sarah was shown a piece of work which she and the other competitors had to recreate on a larger scale.

She said: “It was certainly very tough but I was pleased with what I did. “The piece of work tested my stencilling, wallpapering and glossing skills.

“Afterwards we had to wait outside for 45 minutes while the judges decided.

“It was very tense and I couldn't believe it when they said I had won.

“It would be great to win the final but I'm just pleased to have made it this far.”

Sarah received a £100 voucher for winning the regional and if she wins the final, the top prize is £1,000 as well as the prestige of holding the title.

George Arkell, a director at the brewery, said: “Sarah is helping us keep the tradition of brewery sign writing alive and we're absolutely delighted her work has been recognised this way.”