This Company is rightly proud of its continuing links with the crafts and skills that were the reason for our original foundation more than 600 years ago and for the granting of our current Royal Charter 450 years ago. One of the ways in which we seek to encourage and nurture the continuation of those traditions is by the awarding of annual prizes for excellence among apprentices at a variety of training Colleges, and within the Royal Engineers training school at Chatham and school cadet corps affiliated to it.
This year’s awards were presented on Monday 5th March in the elegant Georgian surroundings of Trinity House with its wonderful open views across to the Tower of London: it has been the venue for these presentations for several years now. After a relaxed Reception when there was the chance to meet the award winners, more than 110 – members of the Livery, their guests, the winners and their tutors – sat down to a particularly fine lunch. After the traditional toasts to The Queen, the Royal Family and the Lord Mayor and Corporation, the Master, Jeff Fuller (whose family had established an award in memory of Fullers who had been Master in previous generations) congratulated the winners and proposed a toast to them and to other guests. The principal guest, Bob Howard MBE (President of the European Union of Tile Fixers and a member of the Livery) spoke about the value of apprenticeships: he reminded us that in the 1960s, at least one-third of those leaving school after GCSE exams had gone on to an apprenticeship but that the number had rapidly declined towards the end of the 20th century. He paid tribute to the colleges, employers, tutors and young people who had helped to the reversal of that decline in recent years. He also congratulated Christopher Causer, a Court Assistant and the Chairman of the Craft Committee, on the amount of hard work he had put into the selection of the winners from a wide field of entrants.
After the presentations of awards to the nine winners, Gary Bricknell was admitted as a Master Craftsman (a title conferred in 2016 for the first time in the modern era) in recognition of the outstanding wall and floor tiling he had executed in one of the chapels at Westminster Cathedral.
The Company is proud of its ongoing connection with bricklaying and with wall and floor tiling and was delighted to recognise the achievements of the award-winners in March.