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Celebrations for double-award-winning joinery apprentice, Harrison Blackham

Studying an Architectural Joinery Apprenticeship at York College & University Centre has led to Harrison Blackham winning two prestigious national awards.

Harrison, who completed his Level 3 apprenticeship last year, saw his talents recognised after being presented with both the British Woodworking Federation’s Apprentice of the Year and Institute of Carpenters’ Third Year awards.

As a college, we are obviously extremely proud of Harrison’s achievements and delighted to highlight them on National Apprenticeship Celebration Day.

The triple-distinction-graded joiner is now employed by Roger Silk of Dunnington-based firm Houghtons, where he also served his apprenticeship.

A record number of entries were received for this year’s BWF Awards, resulting in an exceptionally high calibre of finalists in each category as the woodworking and joinery trade association marked the 15th anniversary of their ceremony.

The competition provides an opportunity to celebrate the people, projects and processes that have made a significant impact on the woodworking and joinery manufacturing sector over the past year.

Harrison, along with the winners of each other award category, attended a black-tie, gala dinner at five-star London hotel, The Langham, where they were presented with their trophies after enjoying a fine dining experience and evening of celebration.

Harrison was presented with his trophy by David Oldfield, President of the BWF and Stephen Cole from award sponsor, CITB.

Photo credit: British Woodworking Federation

Harrison’s success continued when he was then announced the winner of the Institute of Carpenters’ Third Year Award. Harrison and his employer Roger Silk, of Houghtons of York, were welcomed back to the York College & University Centre Campus to receive the prestigious award, which was presented by the Institute of Carpenters’ President Geoff Rhodes and Robin Clevett, one of the national judges of the competition.

Harrison Blackham and employer Roger Silk of Houghtons

On winning the awards, the humble young joiner said:

“It feels really good to have won these awards and I feel very proud. They’re not just awards for me, they’re awards for everyone who’s helped me along the way.

“I did my apprenticeship with Houghtons and I’m now working for them full-time as a qualified joiner, manufacturing and installing doors, staircases and windows.”

Hearing the news of Harrison’s success, Roger Silk, of Houghtons of York, said:

“We are absolutely delighted to see Harrison win these awards. Seeing all the hard work he has put in being recognised is great.

“He’s been so committed to gaining as much knowledge as he possibly can and has a real interest in not only what he’s working on, but what the joiners on the other benches around him are as well.

“We’re passionate about our apprentices and are committed to providing them with the skills they need to then keep them in-house once their studies are completed.”

The Institute of Carpenters’ Award, which was a beautifully carved rain leaf trophy, was handmade by Master Carver Andy Peters from a selection of English hardwoods.

Witnessing and sharing in the celebrations were York College Head of Construction Ashley Stokes, Deputy Head of Construction Mike Burdett, tutor Adrian Salton and Apprenticeship Training Assessor Joe Clancy.

From left: Adrian Salton, Joe Clancey, Roger Silk, Harrison Blackham, Geoff Rhodes, Mike Burdett, Ashley Stokes and Robin Clevett

The format of the competition saw Harrison submit a portfolio of his work as his entry. It was Harrison’s academic achievement of a triple-distinction graded qualification and two outstanding references from his employer and the college that gave him the edge.

Winning such awards would not be possible without employers such as Houghtons, who invest so much time, patience and funding into apprenticeship provision.

Head of Construction Ash Stokes congratulated Harrison on his “superb achievement”, adding that, “reaching this pinnacle at an early stage in his career is massively impressive”.

Apprenticeship Training Assessor Joe Clancy, who paired Harrison with Houghtons, spotted the young apprentice’s talent early on in his studies. Joe believes putting the right talent with the right team has been key to Harrison’s success and went on to say: “I’m so passionate about the joinery trade and feel incredibly proud to have had an input into Harrison’s future.”

Harrison’s tutor Adrian Salton added: “We’ve always seen Harrison as a standout apprentice throughout his studies and it’s so nice to see him being recognised for the hard work he’s put in.”

Learn more

For more information on apprenticeships at York College & University Centre, click here.