When welcoming members of the Company, their guests and prize winners to the 2023 Craft Awards, the Master commented that it was very gratifying to see that so many had taken the opportunity to meet in person once again at a Tylers and Bricklayers’ event. The annual Craft Awards and Luncheon was held on Thursday 9th March 2023 in the splendid surroundings of Trinity House. Overlooking the Tower of London, it is a venue that has hosted previous Craft Awards.
Having collected their menu and seating plan while in the very stylish Entrance Hall of Trinity House, members of the Company and guests were invited by the Beadle, David Wylie to make their way up the staircase where a Champagne Reception awaited along with a very friendly welcome from the Master, John Schofield; Upper Warden, Chris Causer and Renter Warden, Jenny Rolls.
The annual Craft Awards are regarded by many members as one of the most significant events in the Tylers and Bricklayers’ Livery Company calendar. It is the event that is a showcase for young craftsmen and women beginning their careers; those who teach, train and mentor them and those who, in the opinion of their peers, should be recognised as Master Craftsman, for having demonstrated the very highest standards in their craft.The Awards recognise; Master Craftsman – Heritage Bricklayer, Master Craftsman – Roof Slater and Tiler and Master Craftsman – Wall and Floor Tiler.
The Company can trace its history from as early as 1416 and at that time and during the subsequent 250 years, it exercised almost total control over the three crafts within the London area. Liverymen were responsible for training the future generation of craftsmen through an apprenticeship system and it presided over disputes within the trades, monitored levels of craftsmanship and enjoyed draconian powers over members of the Livery who fell short of the required standard. It was, simultaneously, a cartel, an employers’ confederation, a trade union, a trading standards authority and, through the fraternity which existed between its members, a source of welfare and support to those who fell on hard times and to their families. Over the succeeding centuries the Company’s powers diminished with a substantial loss of influence following the relaxation of the craft monopolies which had to be sanctioned following the Great Fire of London in 1666. A significant part of the Company’s role today is in the fostering of the crafts it represents within the construction industry through the giving of awards and prizes. In this way the Company seeks to encourage the development of these crafts and the training of aspiring craftsmen and craftswomen, giving recognition to individuals at the outset of their careers and ultimately conferring Master Craftsman status on those who can demonstrate the very highest standard of craftsmanship over a range of work.
Following a turbulent couple of years, we are pleased to see that things are getting back to normal, or the “new normal” as some might say, and the WorldSkills UK Finals took place in November 2022 following their traditional format. This event, which precedes our awards, provides us with the Craft Award Winners in our 3 trade categories and we recognise the skills of these young crafts people here today.
The Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers has a long serving bond with the Corps of Royal Engineers and make annual awards to outstanding Class 1 and Class 2 construction trainees from the Royal School of Military Engineering in Chatham. We present two further awards annually, known as The Cadet Force Awards, to the best London based Army Cadet and Adult Volunteer Instructor. From time to time, and as the strict criteria are met, we confer the status of Master Craftsman on individuals from our 3 different crafts. Each winner will have demonstrated his or her mastery of their specialised craft and their ability to pass on the specialist skills through mentoring. They are, truly, craftsmen of the highest order, and we recognise these individuals at our Annual Craft Awards here today.The Stokes Royal Engineers Awards – Bricklaying. The Tylers and Bricklayers make annual awards to outstanding Class 1 and Class 2 construction trainees from Number 1 Royal School of Military Engineering Regiment based at Chatham. The Royal School of Military Engineering provides the third and final phase of a Sapper’s training before they are posted to an operational unit.
The Cadet Force Award is made to the Best Cadet and Best Adult Volunteer Instructor in 2023.
Cadet Force Awards, Best Adult Volunteer 2023
The E & R Fuller Award for Bricklaying 2023
The Mason-Elliott Award for Roofing and Slate Tiling 2023
The Montgomery Award for Floor Tiling 2023
The final award is a Special Recognition Award – Services to Education and Industry, Roof Slating and Tiling, and for Wall & Floor Tiling.
An excellent lunch and some fine wines were enjoyed in early Spring sunshine that shone through the large windows of the Trinity House Library. The Master, having proposed the Loyal Toast with all present responding, then proposed a toast to welcome our guests, and offered Company’s gratitude to all those who assisted with the arrangements, assessment, and presentation of the 2023 Craft Awards in these difficult times and welcomed our Principal Guest Lieutenant Colonel Guy Cheesman CEng MInstRE.
Court Assistant and Chairman of the Craft Committee, David White, invited the Master and Principal Guest, Lieutenant Colonel Guy Cheesman CEng MInstRE to present the Company’s 2023 Craft Awards.
The Stokes Royal Engineers Award Class 1 Winner 2023 – Sapper Harry Burley. Spr Burley joined the Corps of Royal Engineers in 2017 and completed his Basic Combat Engineer Training at 3 RSME Regiment. Selected to become a Bricklayer and Concreter by trade, he completed his ME B&C Class 2 Course. He was posted to 33 Engineer Regiment EOD&S and successfully completed his Defence Advance Search Team course and has since deployed on many exercises. In 2020 Spr Burley returned to 1 RSME Regiment to complete his Class 1 B&C Course. His attitude and motivation towards the training was extremely good. This motivation went hand in hand with the standard of his practical work and Spr Burley demands nothing less than perfection in his work. He is a truly excellent trade asset to his unit and has earned a well-deserved recommendation for Clerk of Works.
The Stokes Royal Engineers Award Class 2 Winner 2023 – Sapper Jake Sheridan. Spr Sheridan worked with his father doing landscaping before enlisting into the British Army in 2019. He completed his Basic Combat Engineer Training at 3 RSME Regiment in 2020 and after completing his ME B&C Class 2 Course from 1 RSME Regiment in 2021 he was posted to 23 Para Engr Regt where he has already been deployed to Afghanistan. He completed his course 17 days early, his ability to lay bricks came naturally to him and his trowel skills were to a high standard. His attention to detail and finesse ensured all tasks were completed to an extremely high standard. Spr Sheridan is a highly competent tradesman who has delivered a consistently high standard of work earning the respect of his instructors and peers and has been recommended to return for early Class 1 Training.
Best Cadet Winner 2021 – Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major, Natalia McFadzean. Cdt RSM Natalia McFadzean is the first RSM to be appointed in a decade. She has risen superbly to the challenges of every role which she has filled. Natalia has performed superbly at every stage of her development as an NCO and has proven herself a gifted instructor, as well as a determined and astute Troop Commander in the field. Natalia’s admirable calmness and professionalism is ever present and she is always prepared to step in to instruct when occasion demands. She displays moral courage by taking difficult decisions and telling us when we need to change and adapt to the needs of our Cadets. Her turnout is immaculate, and she sets an excellent example to the younger Cadets and her reliability and integrity when acting independently are two reasons why she was selected for her role.
Best Adult Volunteer Winner 2021 – Staff Sergeant Instructor Lorraine Stannett. SSI Stannett was appointed in March 2018 and has been an integral part of her unit’s achievements since. Her responsibilities include the planning and undertaking of training of cadets across a broad range of subjects at Basic to 3-star level as part of the Army Cadet syllabus and she has facilitated cadets to take part in many national activities. She is also the appointed Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Manager, planning and delivering training across several detachments; her efforts were recognised by the award of an ACCT UK Excellence award for exceptional contribution to the DoE award scheme. SSI Stannett is a committed, enthusiastic member of the company and an outstanding Cadet Force Adult Volunteer. The Company recognises the WorldSkills UK competition winners with the following awards:
The E & R Fuller Award for Bricklaying 2022 Winner – Jago Gamblin. After winning his Regional Heats, Jago competed in this year’s WorldSkills UK National Finals event. The competition was held on the 16th to the 17th of November 2022 at the Granton Campus of Edinburgh College, where he competed against 6 other competitors from around the UK. Commenting on his success, Jago said, “I was over the moon to hear the result; I knew I had done quite well and was hoping for a top 3 finish; however, to get the Gold medal is fantastic, and I couldn’t have done it without the support of George and Steve my Bricklaying Lecturers, I am now looking forward to hopefully going on to represent the UK in the World Skills in Lyon France and trying out my skills against the best in the world.”
The Mason-Elliott Award for Roof Slating and Tiling 2022 Winner – Jordan Maley. Jordan is no stranger to these awards having also won the competition in 2022! A slating apprentice from South Lanarkshire College (SLC), Jordan was one of seven student roof slaters and tilers from colleges across the country who competed head-to-head at the WorldSkills UK National Finals event. Jordan, Following the event, Jordan said; “I love competing and showcasing my skills. I get to practice techniques and details I don’t often get to do in my normal work. It’s a real test of skills: working to small tolerances, perfect perp’ lines, neat cement work and everything balanced to achieve the overall look. I enjoy the challenge, but it certainly hasn’t been easy – there was a lot of good talent here and it was a very close competition.”
The Montgomery Award for Wall and Floor Tiling 2022 Winner – Conor Nugent. Conor recently completed his level 2 and 3 NVQ in Wall and Floor Tiling at Southern Region College and now works full time for Leo Duffy Tiling in Armagh, a company presently working in private housing new builds. When he is not tiling Conor is a keen Gaelic footballer and we are told that although he is quiet and unassuming off the pitch, he is a ferocious back for his local Club Granemore GFC.
Recognition of Master Craftsman 2023. There are normally three openings for this award, and each has demonstrated, inter alia, an extremely high level in their own training, practical site experience and willingness to assist in the training of others.
Master Craftsman – Roof Slater and Tiler – Matthew (Matt) Timby Matt began his career as an apprentice roof slater and tiler in 2007 working for a small local roofing firm. During his training he was selected to represent his college twice, both in 2009 and 2010 at SkillBuild. Matt went on to win gold medals on both occasions and as a result he is also no stranger to these proceedings, having both the 2009 and 2010 Mason-Elliott Awards bestowed upon him by our Company.
Master Craftsman are later invited to sign their entry in the Register of Master Craftsman.
Special Recognition Award – Services to Industry, Roof Slating and Tiling – Simon Dixon Recognised for services to the roof slating and tiling industry through his long-served career as a tradesman, an educationalist and mentor for countless young roofers. After leaving school in 1982 Simon followed in his family’s footsteps and joined Giblins Roofing as an apprentice roof slater and tiler where he remained for 7 years and during which time he successfully achieved his NVQ3 in Roof Slating and Tiling and progressed to the position of foreman. For the next 10 years Simon worked for himself undertaking a multitude of roofing projects in both the public and private sector and during the last 2 years he became a part time instructor delivering NVQ training and assessments at the Leeds College of Building. Those 2 years were pivotal for Simon as in 1998 he became a full time instructor, leaving his life on the tools behind. For the next 3 years Simon worked for the National Construction College (CITB) at their centres in Kent, Birmingham and Bircham Newton delivering NVQ training and assessments to students. Simon went on to become leader of the Roofing Department at Bolton Community College before establishing his own pitched roofing consultancy business. For the next 8 years he worked throughout the UK delivering NVQ training and worked closely with Sandtoft Tiles, prior to their acquisition by Wienerberger.
Special Recognition Award – Services to Industry, Wall & Floor Tiling - Chis Cox. Recognised or services to the wall and floor tiling industry through his substantial career as a creator and designer of wall and floor tiles and for being instrumental in the resurrection of the art of encaustic tile production in the UK. When Chris first left school to embark on a two-year Foundation course in Art and Design specializing in ceramics at Eastbourne Art College, he probably had no idea where his journey would take him. The course at Eastbourne was led by John Warren, a studio potter who introduced Chris to clay, a fascinating, challenging and incredible material. The next two years were spent on a Studio Ceramics Course at Harrow where he first experimented with the process of handmade encaustic tiles. Whilst the course was built around thrown and sculpted studio pottery, the extensive experience and knowledge of both resident and visiting lecturers was very inspiring to him.
Each prize winner was applauded by members and guests as they received their award, a framed certificate, medal, and prize while being photographed. A copy of the day's Brochure can be seen Here.
With the formalities complete and with many individuals thanking the staff at Trinity House for their hospitality, the Craft Awards 2023 came to an end.
Excerpts taken from the Craft Awards brochure, with thanks to David White, Chairman of the Craft Committee.
By Court Assistant Keith Aldis