The National Heritage Ironwork Group recently held an awards ceremony for graduates from the second and final year of its Heritage Blacksmiths Bursary programme. The training was the first of its kind in the UK and set up by the NHIG as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) Skills for the future programme. Designed however, with sustainability in mind, the college based part of this training will be available as a Heritage Pathway within the new Advanced Apprenticeship scheme that is due to be available in September 2014.
Adrian Legge, Chairman of the programme, said “It is both exciting and sad to come to the end of this bursary scheme. Sad because it feels like the end of a long journey and saying goodbye to new friends, but also exciting because the hard work of the bursary recipients and the officers of the NHIG has led to a Heritage metalwork conservation being built into the proposed advanced blacksmithing apprenticeship as a unique pathway. This is based on the same occupational standards that have been developed by NHIG with the support of the blacksmithing craft community.
I feel proud of the work done by the trainees and the way that they have acted as ambassadors of the blacksmiths craft and of their professionalism when attending their work placements. The high quality of the work achieved in a relatively short time is testament to the effort put in by them.”
The event was hosted by Hampton Court Palace, a partner in the programme and where the graduates had spent time working on the Tijou Screen, one of the finest examples of the work of the artist blacksmith. Before a guided tour of the gardens 2013 bursary graduates, Paul Ashmore, Adam Baillie, Jen Leigh, Fred Suffield, Rowan Taylor and Matt West, were presented with their NHIG awards.
Paul Ashmore (left) was presented with the award for ‘Best Blacksmith’
Rowan Taylor (right) was presented with the award for ‘Best Portfolio’
In the future, while NHIG have no plans to run another bursary, they wish to establish contact and work with other bursary providers to help ensure that there are opportunities for blacksmiths within their schemes.