Three new apprentices


Three new apprentices join the stonemasons team at Gloucester Cathedral as Cathedral Crafts Training returns

Gloucester Cathedral has welcomed three new apprentices to the stonemasons team thanks to generous funding by the Hamish Ogston Foundation.

Hannah Kendall has joined as a level three apprentice after changing career paths from accountancy, along with Liam Winship and Elliot Lyster at level four. Hannah is beginning her trade after two years at college, whilst Liam and Elliot are mature apprentices beginning the first year of the Cathedral Workshops Fellowship (CWF) Foundation Degree leading to level five in 2022 and Graduation in 2023.

All three have now started training under Master Mason, Pascal Mychalysin who has trained over 50 masons during his thirty years at Gloucester Cathedral. He said: “There are simply no better places than Cathedrals to learn the wide range of skills, knowledge and expertise needed for the conservation, repairs and upkeep of our built heritage. It is not only helping to keep the buildings safe it is also saving the skills and knowledge for the next generation.

Thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Hamish Ogston Foundation our Cathedral Workshops, here in Gloucester and in nine other Cathedrals, will formally become what they always were: Training Centres of Excellence for Heritage Craftmanship. They will be better equipped to perform their mission and this will enable them to bring it to an even higher degree of excellence.”

Hannah said: “After reassessing what I wanted out of a career I decided to leave accountancy and retrain in Stonemasonry. I have spent a couple of years at college and am excited to continue learning from the wealth of experience of the team here. Gloucester Cathedral is an amazing building with a rich history and I feel privileged to work here.”

Liam said “I am very passionate about my trade and have been moving around the last few years trying to gain the best experience/training possible. This is what lead to me Gloucester, as a stonemason it does not get much more prestigious. It is very exciting to work in such a beautiful and historically significant building.”

Elliot added “I went into a stonemasonry apprenticeship in Oxford after school and upon finishing, saw the job at Gloucester as a perfect way to keep learning and improving among a skilled and experienced team. I look forward now to working on such a complex building and in such a happy environment.”

The Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship (CWF) has now resumed face to face training of cathedral crafts people, after nineteen challenging months of online teaching.  The delayed ‘Covid Cohort’ of Foundation degree students, funded by the Hamish Ogston Foundation (HOF), were delighted to be able to travel to York Minster for their carving module earlier this month. Socially distanced bankers were set up in the courtyard of St William’s College, where tutor Martin Coward guided the twelve students through the first stages of their assessed carving task. The students will complete their carvings over the next few weeks and convene at Chester Cathedral in November for their assessment.

Meanwhile, the first post-Covid cohort, recruited during the pandemic and also generously funded through a grant of £700K by the Hamish Ogston Foundation, has just enrolled on their course. Fourteen students attended their first Study Workshop in Lincoln where they were treated to a close up look at the Gallery of Kings on the West Front on a tour led by cathedral architect Nick Rank.

The Hamish Ogston Foundation has invested £1.2m in the Craft Training partnership project with the CWF and is supporting a total of twenty-five crafts people at various stages of training this year. A further round of funding from 2022 – 2005 will take the Foundations’ total investment in cathedral crafts skills to £3.1m and secure training places for fifty craft trainees up to 2025. The project is key to maintaining the flow of skilled craftspeople on whom the future of our cathedrals depends.

CWF Executive Director Frances Cambrook said: “We are delighted and relieved to be able to resume ‘new normal’ delivery of our courses. There is only so much you can do online with practical craft subjects and the students were really missing out by not being able to visit cathedrals and other historic buildings. We are so fortunate that the Hamish Ogston Foundation has recognised the value of the training we provide for craftspeople; craft skills take time to develop and it is so important the training momentum is maintained through the difficult years ahead”.

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