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The Corporation

Posted: 15/06/17

Craft skills tested in carpentry challenge

Carpentry and joinery students across the region put their craftwork to the test in a regional skills challenge hosted by West Nottinghamshire College.

  • Jordan and Jon (centre, left and right) proudly show off their certificates of participation, with Adam Thompson (left) and David Winson (right).
  • Head of construction Glynn Statham (second left) is presented with the host college‚Äôs rose bowl by Allan and Jackie Gregory, of A.R.G. (Mansfield) Ltd, joined by construction crafts curriculum manager David Cope (left).
  • Head of construction Glynn Statham (left) with top-placed competitors (from left) Martins Susters, Joshua Mather and Tom Crosby, and winner of the Ernie Leach shield for health and safety, Ryan Gray from Sheffield College.

Nine students and apprentices from West Nottinghamshire, Sheffield, Lincoln and Grantham colleges battled it out for the coveted Merlane Trophy – an annual trade competition that sees trainees produce a complex piece of work under timed conditions.

Organised by the East Midlands’ section of the Institute of Carpenters (IOC), the competition – now in its 41st year – rotates between different colleges and provides friendly rivalry amongst each institution, as students compete in a four-hour, bench-based skills contest incorporating carpentry and joinery in various forms; from roofing to floor-trimming, and manufacturing items from gates to serving hatches.

This year’s event – held at the college’s construction campus, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, yesterday (Wednesday 14 June) – saw competitors aged between 17 and 22 tasked with making a stud wall containing an opening hatch, with various joints to each component, and finished with architrave and skirting, in accordance with detailed technical drawings.

Following a hard-fought contest, first place went to Joshua Mather, of Lincoln College, while second and third places went to Martins Susters and Tom Crosby respectively, both of Grantham College.

West Notts was represented by joinery apprentices Jordan Harrison, 18, from Sutton-in-Ashfield, and Jon Stokes, 21, from Warsop.

Jordan, who is employed by bespoke interiors manufacturer Realm Projects, Mansfield, and studies the Level 2 Diploma in Bench Joinery on day-release at the college, said: “It was a really good experience. Although there were things I know I could have done better, I think I did quite well overall. It’s certainly something good to put on your CV.”

Jon, who works for his brother’s firm, Stokes Joinery, also in Mansfield, and studies the Level 2 Diploma in Site Joinery, said: “I enjoyed taking part; it teaches you to work under pressure, which you often have to do in the workplace. Even though I didn’t win, I was honoured to be put forward to compete. I hope to compete again next year.”

The competition was co-ordinated by construction tutor Adam Thompson, who is no stranger to it, having grabbed second place in 2009 when he competed as a 19-year-old joinery student at the college before going on to work there.

Said Adam: “The competition is a rigorous test of quality and craftsmanship, which helps students become more confident and passionate about becoming the best at what they do.

“For Jordan and Jon to have represented the college is a brilliant achievement in its own right. They’ve shown willingness and determination throughout and can feel justifiably proud of how they’ve performed.”

David Winson, registrar of the Institute of Carpenters, said: “The overall standard of students’ work was on a par with previous years, which is pleasing. We need to maintain high skill levels across our profession and the Merlane Trophy is one way of achieving that, which is why it retains its importance.”

Main sponsor of the competition was building contractors A.R.G. (Mansfield) Ltd. Its managing director Allan Gregory and fellow director, wife Jackie, presented the college’s head of construction and building services Glynn Statham with the competition rose bowl, which the host college retains for a year.

The Merlane Trophy was founded by Nottingham-based IOC member George Merlane in 1977.