Clean sweep for Stone Federation competitors
Apprentices from Stone Federation GB member companies have swept the board at the annual SkillBuild championships in Preston.
The top three in the stonemasonry section finished in the same order as they had in the Federation’s own UK Masonry Skills Challenge earlier this year.
The gold medal went to Thomas Whitehead, who has a hat-trick of successes in the UK Masonry Skills challenges to his name.
Thomas, who lives in Weymouth, is employed by Albion Stone Plc at Portland and has also achieved success in previous SkillBuild contests.
In 2010 he won the event at his first attempt and last year came third saying “I put too much pressure on myself.
“I knew this year was my last competition because I finished my apprenticeship in the summer and I just went for it with the view that I had nothing to lose,” he said.
Runner up in this year’s SkillBuild competition was Edward Shaw, who works for Chichester-based Cathedral Works Organisation Ltd.
In third place was Darek Malecki, who works for Wells Cathedral Stonemasons Ltd in Cheddar. All three studied at Weymouth College.
SkillBuild is the largest multi-trade competition in the country for construction trainees and apprentices.
Organised by the Construction Industry Training Board the event is divided into ten building craft sections, including bricklaying, joinery and plastering.
Bristol-born Thomas Whitehead first studied for an arts foundation diploma at Filton College where his lecturer suggested stonemasonry as a career.
“Having completed my apprenticeship I have now gone full-time with Albion Stone, which is nice because it meant I got a pay rise” he joked.
“I am enjoying living in Weymouth and not having to worry about doing homework. My girlfriend Amy is taking a degree course in stone conservation so that’s a mutual interest.”
Stone Federation Chief Executive Jane Buxey commented: “Once again companies belonging to Stone Federation have played their part, alongside some excellent colleges, to ensure that craftsmanship and expertise in the ancient skill of stonemasonry remains alive and well.”