TWO technicians from a North-East car dealership have made it to the finals of a national competition.

Panel beaters Emlyn Cerry and Simon Noble are in the final three for the title of Bodyshop magazine's Panel Technician of the Year and Apprentice Panel Technician of the Year, respectively.

To get this far, the pair had to pass a written test and take a practical examination at the Institute of Motor Repair and Research in Thatcham, Berkshire.

During a full day of tests at Thatcham, the mechanics demonstrated skills in welding, cold metal repair and completed an on-line computer technical test. The panel beaters both work at the body repair shop at Simon Bailes Peugeot, in Northallerton.

Mr Cerry, 34, from Hartlepool, said: "This is one of the proudest moments of my career, as the standard of everyone taking part was very high.

"I am delighted to be included in the best three in the UK and am keeping my fingers crossed."

Mr Noble, 19, from Billingham, said: "When I was told I had made it as a finalist I was absolutely thrilled."