Graduate Case Studies

The student case studies show what a representative sample of people have gone on to do after longer courses. Graduates stay in touch with each other and the Academy via the Academy-run private graduates’ group. The Academy is regularly contacted by employers, people who need work completed on their boats (or a gate making, or a cabin wood panelled, or tables for their restaurant) which, because the Academy does no commercial work, is passed on to the graduates via the network. Boats for sale, boats free to a good home, news and items of interest are also posted.

Graduates are working at, to name a few, Spirit Yachts, Elephant Boatyard, Cockwells, Sunseeker and T. Nielsen and Co. and Douglas Marine.

Thirty-eight week Boat Building

douglas marine

Lee Ulyat – Class of September 2014

Lee served in the 7th Parachute Regiment R.H.A and worked in Iraq, Afghanistan and the UK as a security consultant and bodyguard.  Eventually it was time to look for a more family friendly career.  Boat building ticked all the boxes.  Read more…

brooke ricketts

Brooke Ricketts – Class of March 2014

Brooke relocated from Chesapeake Bay in Maryland to Dorset with his British wife and two children.  He was General Manager of Switching Operations for Inter-Rail Transport, USA for 10 years before deciding it was time for a change.  With a Read more…

keith mcillwain Golant Ketch

Keith McIlwain – Class of September 2013

At age 16 Keith left school and followed his passion for sailing, moving to Southend to become a Sailmaker. After five years he moved on through various sales and marketing roles. Some 34 years later, following a battle with cancer Read more…

james dickson

James Dickson – Class of September 2013

James comes from a fishing family but made a career in the law, becoming a partner in a leading Scottish law firm where he specialised in social and ethical finance and in funding renewable energy projects. He kept a Boat Read more…

brian reford

Brian Reford – Class of March 2013

Brian started rebuilding Land Rovers at 13.  At 16 his school arranged a week’s work experience at Henwood and Dean and Brian’s ambition to become a boat builder was launched. He took ‘A’ Levels in Design and Technology, Physics and Photography. Read more…

tom oughton

Tom Oughton – Class of March 2013

Tom joined the Weymouth Canoe Lifeguards at 13 and went on to work as a lifeguard and activity instructor for PGL in France when he was older.  He wanted a ‘skill-based’ career that was both practical and included problem solving.  Read more…

Charlie Couture – Class of September 2012

Charlie was always a keen sailor and had competed in the Cowes, Falmouth and Yarmouth classic yacht regattas. Charlie joined us from Guernsey, wanting to take a path combining boat building with his interest in class boats.  Since he graduated Read more…

luke brown tortola

Luke Browne – Class of September 2012

After leaving school in Launceston, Cornwall, Luke spent time travelling in Australia and New Zealand.  When he returned to England he worked in a variety of jobs; as an architectural technician, in property renovation and as a production operator.  But Read more…

alex brown

Alex Brown – Class of September 2012

Alex studied Design and Technology at university, worked abroad for several years and ran an internet business. He joined the Boat Building Academy to get back into working ‘hands-on’.  Immediately after the course he joined a boat builder in Exeter Read more…

Jim Higginson Nielsen ad

Jim Higginson – Class of March 2012

Jim completed an art foundation course and started a Degree but realised he wanted to follow a more vocational path. Jim knew he wanted to be a craftsman of some sort but it wasn’t until he built a skin-on-frame canoe in Read more…

dominik gschwind

Dominik Gschwind – Class of March 2012

When we asked Dominik whether we could include him in the ‘Graduate Case Studies’ he said ‘Imagine, I myself was really inspired by those case studies on your website before starting my own boat building education at the Academy’.  After Read more…

anna

Anna Rausmüller – Class of September 2011

Anna ran her own graphic design company in Switzerland, in her spare time she restored a fifty year old wooden Stämpfli single scull racing boat (she has rowed for many years). Being in the workshop was so enjoyable it prompted Read more…

matt cowdery

Matt Cowdery – Class of September 2011

Matt, after working as a commercial diver, a dive instructor in the Caymans and crew on private yachts, married and wanted a more settled existence with his wife.  After finishing the course he worked restoring classic cars as an informal apprentice with Read more…

student profile

Ben Dixon – Class of March 2011

Ben left school at 16 with ‘no useful qualifications’ and drifted through a variety of jobs. Visiting friends in Weymouth, walking along the harbour, Ben heard himself say ‘I want to live on a boat.’  After falling in love with wooden boats Read more…

sean quail

Sean Quail – Class of September 2010

Sean joined the Academy on his return from A-Levels, travels and working on graphic design and photography projects.  He wanted to train to make a living out of his hobbies and creative interests.  After the course Sean volunteered on ‘The Boat Project’ – part of Read more…

gary thompson

Gary Thompson – Class of September 2010

Gary comes from County Down and initially trained as a graphic designer, but worked in various sales and marketing roles at the same time as running his own property development business.  A Daily Telegraph article on the Academy sparked Gary’s Read more…

Jim Walsh – Class of September 2009

At 27, while working in an architectural practice in southern Ireland, Jim realised he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life at a desk and joined the Academy. He had visited boat yards in his area and found Read more…

tim

Tim Price – Class of September 2009

Originally from South Africa, Tim joined the Academy from Alderney, where he was working on water taxis.  Tim is an MCA licensed Master of Yachts and his experience includes yacht delivery, crewing and sailing instructor.  After graduating in June 2010 Tim immediately started Read more…

Rob Murphy – Class of March 2008

Rob had been working as a carpenter who also made and played his own guitars when he began the long course. After graduation Rob worked on narrow boats; fit-out, line-out (insulation), ballasting, engineering, and painting and finishing. In January 2010 Read more…

Jamie Poynton – Class of March 2008

Jamie grew up near Lyme Regis in Axmouth, Devon. Before joining us at the Boat Building Academy he commuted weekly to Eel Pie Island in London to work with his Grandad, renovating a 1950s tug. City & Guilds awarded Jamie Read more…

MIke Lowson – Class of March 2008

Mike, born and raised in the fishing community of Arbroath, had a wide-ranging career in PR and journalism. His sailing interests led to various boat restoration projects. His aim on joining the course was to set up his own boat Read more…

Simon Shard – Class of September 2007

Simon was an aircraft mechanic (radio and radar) in the Royal Navy before a serious motorbike accident immobilised him for five years and forced his medical discharge. He joined the Academy as soon as he was fit. While on the Read more…

Ian Thomson – September 2007

Ian Thomson – Class of September 2007 Ian was Head of Marketing for mail order boat accessories company Nauticalia. He sailed extensively and joined the course because he had an idea for an alternative to inflatable tenders – something quicker Read more…

Peter Heselgrave – Class of March 2007

Peter worked at ‘random’ jobs for two years before joining the long course in 2007. Since leaving the Academy he has worked as a laminator and boat builder for Ice Marine. Ice specialise in building high speed offshore powerboats. Peter’s Read more…

Bob (Bobbert) Jennings – Class of March 2007

Bob worked for the same laboratory supplies company for 32 years – in laboratories, human resources, IT management and European marketing. When he took early retirement he home-built a Swallow Boat stitch and glue ‘Storm 15’. He enjoyed the build Read more…

kaskelot

Myke Littler – Class of September 2006

“I can’t believe it’s been nearly ten years!”  Before Myke started the ‘Long’ course he was living in the Isles Of Scilly with no direction in his life or any idea of what career to follow. Happily a beautiful Falmouth Read more…

hugh parsons

Hugh Parsons – Class of September 2006

Hugh joined the 38 week Long Course after ‘A’ Levels and a year out travelling in South America.  After the course he worked at a high-end cabinet makers in Edinburgh.  He then pursued another interest by going back into education Read more…

nordic folkboat

David Gredley – Class of 2003

‘My year at the BBA ranks highly as one of the best years of my life. It opened my eyes to what is possible and teased out latent woodworking skills that I and other course members didn’t realise we had.  Read more…

Gail McGarva – Class of September 2004

After 11 years as a British Sign Language Interpreter Gail turned her mind and hands to boat building. She received a full City & Guilds bursary to fund the course, as part of which she built a replica ‘Gardie Boat’ Read more…

Twelve week Woodworking Skills

orinoko alex cunningham

Alex Cunningham – Class of May 2016

Alex Cunningham gave up the city and his job as an Architectural Engineering Consultant to develop his woodworking from a hobby to part of his working life.  Alex’s personal project piece was a contemporary writing desk, with a nod to Read more…

tom zinovieff cabinet

Tom Zinovieff – Class of September 2015

Before joining the Academy Tom worked in a variety of roles in the TV and film industry, although he had always been interested in wood and woodworking.  His father is a cabinet maker and Tom enjoyed watching and helping him Read more…

marc davies side table

Marc Davies – Class of September 2015

Before coming to the Academy Marc completed a degree in Building Surveying.  He worked for 8 years as a Building Surveyor and Project Manager for a variety of new build and refurbishment projects.  Joining the 12 week Woodworking Skills course Read more…

caspar desk

Caspar Hulacki – Class of September 2015

West Dorset local Caspar grew up near the Academy.  He worked on a dairy farm in Dorset’s Bride Valley before joining the Academy to learn new creative skills.  After the 12 week course Caspar worked with fellow Boat Building Academy Read more…

Peter Bromwich – Class of January 2015

Peter joined the Academy following a career in IT working for House of Fraser, British Car Auctions and most recently as a freelance IT consultant.  Peter first came to the Academy in 2012 on a five day Basic Woodworking short Read more…

tim clayton marquetry

Tim Clayton – Class of September 2014

After 27 years in sales, Tim relocated from Buckinghamshire to West Dorset and decided it was time to do something new, although working with wood wasn’t entirely new to him.  Inspired by a marquetry demonstration seen in his early twenties, Read more…

bella bathurst furniture

Bella Bathurst – Class of September 2014 and January 2015

Bella is a fiction and non-fiction writer and journalist.  Her first book The Lighthouse Stevensons (1999) was named one of List Magazine‘s ‘100 Best Scottish Books of All Time’ and won the Somerset Maugham Prize.  Her articles have been published in Read more…

toby phillips furniture 2 2017

Toby Philips – Class of May 2014

After gaining an Anthropology degree Toby spent some time working on his home.  He found that he loved working with his hands. He decided to pursue a career in woodworking, with an aim to starting his own business.  Toby completed Read more…

david asquith

David Asquith – Class of January 2014

After working in IT for 34 years David decided it was time for a change.  He relocated to the Lyme Regis area and decided to do something practical. He joined the 12 week Woodworking Skills course because he wanted to Read more…

jAMES VOOGHT CONSOLE TABLE

James Vooght – Class of September 2013

James worked in various European countries for action sports agencies before founding his own, providing digital media and graphic design to action sport teams.  James joined the Academy to develop his woodworking skills.  His carpenter stepfather had taught him some Read more…

richard adams furniture

Richard Adams – Class of September 2012

Richard kindly sent us an update in 2017 to let us know what he’s been up to.  He commented, “To say it represented a turning point for me is no exaggeration. Three months before joining the course I was working Read more…

Josh Rose – Class of August 2010

Josh always wanted to be an artist and work for himself.  A year after completing the 8 week (now 12 week) Woodworking Skills course at the Academy Josh and a business partner started ‘This Way Up Studios‘ in Bristol.  ‘This Read more…

Jack Pammenter – Class of August 2010

After spending seven years working his way up the management ladder at a large retail company Jack realised that the hours he was working were too long and his quality of life ‘rubbish’. Jack had always been very practical, restoring Read more…

Richard James – Class of October 2009

Richard joined the Academy in 2009. He was part-funded by his employer, Dart Pleasure Craft Ltd, now the Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company, to sharpen his existing woodworking abilities. Richard works mainly as Master on wooden and steel Read more…

Reuben O’Connell – Class of February 2009

Born and raised in Cumbria, after a spell of overseas travel, Reuben worked in Scotland managing cottages on an estate, a role which included many practical jobs and repair work.  With no woodworking experience Reuben wanted to properly learn woodworking skills. Read more…

Ross Friend – Class of May 2009

Before joining the eight week Woodworking Skills course looking for a career change, Ross worked as a Consultant Lighting Systems Engineer specialising in aircraft external lighting. Ross had little idea how he would go on to use the skills, but Read more…

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