After presenting commemorative scrolls to this year’s Fellows – cob builder Alex Gibbons, stonemason Eoin Madigan and carpenter Tom Massey – Dame Helen spoke about growing concern at the shortage of building crafts workers in the heritage sector and the National Trust’s own commitment to apprenticeships in traditional building trades.
Describing The SPAB as “wise allies and supporters”, she congratulated the 2014 Fellows and reflected that conservation can never be about preservation in a steady state, but it is really about managing change – something that will play a central role in the developing careers of Alex, Eoin and Tom.
On behalf of the 2014 Fellows, Alex Gibbons thanked the Fellowship’s funders, donors and supporters. He also paid tribute to family and friends for their understanding. In the last nine months the trio have journeyed far from home, travelling from Cornwall to the Hebrides to learn, first hand, about building crafts from experts on project sites and in workshops across the country.
Alex said: “All three of us are self-employed and had to juggle our work with the Fellowship. We all made a conscious decision to make an investment in ourselves, our careers and our crafts. I know the knowledge and experience I’ve gained through this unique programme will stay with me throughout my career.”
Lord Patrick Cormack, Chairman of the William Morris Craft Fellowship Committee explained that the scheme had been established to celebrate and encourage traditional building crafts, noting that these increasingly rare skills should be recognised for “their own intrinsic importance.”
The application deadline for 2015’s Scholarship and Fellowship programme is 1 December 2014, apply now for this prestigious nine month training scheme.
Photo caption: Left – right: Dame Helen Ghosh, Director General, National Trust, Matthew Slocombe, Director of SPAB, Fellows Alex Gibbons, Eoin Madigan and Tom Massey, Fellowship organiser Pip Soodeen and Fellowship Committee Chairman, Lord Patrick Cormack. (Credit: Ralph Hodgson)