Face to face training is back

And they’re back! Our trainee cathedral craftspeople have been able to resume face to face training this month – and first stop was York Minster for carving workshops.

Our cathedral craftspeople get hands on again after 19 months of online training.

After nineteen months of online training, the Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship (CWF) was able to resume face to face training with the so-called ‘Covid Cohort’ of Foundation degree students, funded by the Hamish Ogston Foundation  (HOF).

And at York, socially distanced work stations 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.

Meanwhile, the first group of students recruited during the pandemic enrolled on their course and all 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 of the cathedral.

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.

Hannah Kendall, stonemasonry apprentice at Gloucester Cathedral said:

“The first few weeks have been really good, we’ve been up on the scaffolding doing repointing, which is new for me, so I’ve learned a lot already. 

“Stonemasonry is really important. I think it’s important to train people in the skills that have always been used so that when we do maintain and restore buildings, we stay true to how they were originally built”.

Hannah is one of three new apprentices to the stonemasons team at Gloucester.

Hannah has joined as a level three apprentice after changing career paths from accountancy, along with Liam Winship and Elliot Lyster at level four. And all three have now started training under Master Mason, Pascal Mychalysin who has trained over 50 masons during his thirty years at Gloucester Cathedral.

Face to face training is back

Pascal 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.

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 that the training momentum is maintained through the difficult years ahead”.

The Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship (CWF) is an association of ten Anglican cathedrals established in 2006 to provide education and training for the craftsmen and women who maintain cathedrals and other historic buildings. Its students include heritage stonemasons, carpenter/joiners, electricians and plumbers.

The Hamish Ogston Foundation is a UK registered charity that provides strategic support for heritage, health and music initiatives, with the objective of securing long-term viability for projects and promoting sustainable employment.