Students from the Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship (CWF) at Worcester Cathedral

Graduation ceremony celebrates new generation of heritage heroes

Image: Students from the Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship (CWF) at Worcester Cathedral

The next generation of heritage tradespeople, helping to preserve the country’s rich history, have been recognised at a graduation ceremony.

Students from the Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship (CWF) were honoured at Worcester Cathedral, as they graduated with a Foundation degree in Applied Historic Building Conservation and Repair.

The Foundation degree offers stonemasons, carpenters, electricians and most recently plumbers a recognised career path and a route to higher-level qualifications through a two-year work-based study programme.

Run by the CWF and sponsored by Gloucester-based insurer Ecclesiastical, the programme covers a range of practical work-based topics including principles of stone and wood construction, historic building conservation and environmental and sustainability initiatives.

The scheme also received funding from Hamish Ogston Foundation who funded the second year of the course as part of a five-year Craft Training project with the CWF, and Historic England who provided Covid Recovery funding to enable the course to be delivered online during the pandemic.

The 12 graduates received their awards from Professor Angus Pryor, head of the School of Arts at the University of Gloucestershire in front of friends, family, Adam Stone, deputy chair of The Worshipful Company of Masons’ Craft Training Committee and this year’s new students who started their degree programme the following day. The graduation ceremony was held as part of Worcester Cathedral’s Evensong Service.

Worcester Cathedral is one of nine members of the CWF programme, which also includes Exeter, Gloucester and Salisbury. It has benefitted directly from the programme, with several graduates working on the maintenance and restoration of the Cathedral over the years.

Graduate Martin Gwilliams from Gloucester Cathedral, received funding from Ecclesiastical’s parent company, Benefact Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation and Friends of the Cotswolds to complete the course and said: “The course was all I hoped for and more. I learnt and gained so much knowledge and developed my skills via each module, and also valuable information and experience from the trips we made to the cathedrals and the workshop we visited during the course.” He added: “The course has equipped me well for whatever I might do next and in the future.”

Frances Cambrook, CWF executive director, said: “This course has been a truly memorable one. Over the last two and a half years the students have shown remarkable determination, fortitude and tenacity in sticking with the course through the most challenging of times. They can all rightly be very proud of what they have achieved”.

Chris Pitt, group impact director at Ecclesiastical added: “We are really proud to be able to continue our support of the CWF programme. We have some of the most incredible and beautiful buildings here in the UK and, without investment in heritage skills, many would be at risk of falling in to disrepair.

“Ecclesiastical is committed to supporting heritage skills through its work with organisations such as the CWF to preserve the UK’s historic properties for generations to come.”