Class of March 2011

On 14th March the Academy doors opened to eighteen new students. Each of the Upstairs Group, otherwise known as the ‘Class of March 2011’, talked briefly about what they had been doing and what they hoped for from the course.

The group come from a wide range of backgrounds including hospitality, construction, teaching, I.T engineering, banking and the Royal Navy. Mike Broome, their main Instructor, is delighted by their progress so far.

They moved down to the main workshop and became the Downstairs Group on 27 June. They launched the boats on Wednesday 7 December 2011.

Ben Dixon

Ben Dixon

Ben travelled 431 miles from Glasgow , Scotland to join us here at the Academy.  Ben most recently worked as an Endoscope Decontamination Technician for NHS Scotland but has always dreamed of working in the marine industry. His newly found skills at the Academy will help turn his aspirations into reality. He would love to buy and live on his own boat one day.

Christian Skeels

Christian Skeels

Christian joined us from Harrogate Borough Council where he was part of their Local Development Framework team. Christian’s farther was a joiner and some of Christian’s earliest memories are of being in his farther’s workshop. Sailing was a childhood passion but Christian suffered terrible sea sickness. Five years ago he decided he would rather sail sick than not at all and has now sailed in Scotland, Norway and on the East coast where he is a member of the Humber Yawl Club. Christian is also an enthusiastic canoeist (open and kayak) and was an Instructor at the York Canoe Club.

Christian will sail his yacht ‘Athaena’, a Maurice Griffiths designed Eventide that he worked on every weekend for a year, down to Lyme Regis where she will be moored while he is on the course.

David Campbell

David Campbell

So far David has spent his working life in construction, starting as a site engineer in the North East of England before gaining a BSc in Civil Engineering from Salford. Last year he retired from his job as Site Manager for Blenheim House Construction and took a Lofting course with Jack Chippendale near his home in Norfolk, having already decided to come down to Lyme Regis to join the 38 week course. David will work in the marine industry after he finishes the course.

Derek Thompson

Derek Thompson

Originally from Walney Island, Barrow-in-Furness Derek lived in Australia and the USA before settling down to work as an IT engineer for many years and as a ski instructor at Hemel Hempstead ski slope.   On his retirement from Dacorum Borough Council he and his wife decided they were too far from the sea and moved to Seaton in Devon.

We first met Derek when he and his brother walked past the Academy and asked to have a look around the workshops. Derek originally intended joining the West Greenland Kayak building course, but the decided to bite the bullet and go the full 38 weeks.

Jackson Pottle

Jackson Pottle

Jackson, the youngest member of the group, joined the course from Cheshire where he recently finished his ‘A’ Levels. He chose the course as an alternative to university as he feels the practical nature of the course is appropriate for him and the skills will give him a good future career.

James Winterbourne

James Winterbourne

James, one of the youngest of the group at 19, left school with 9 GCSE’s and 3 A Levels and decided university just wasn’t for him. He started working as a Technical Support Assistant for Calendar Club in Exeter , but had a change of heart and decided to gain work experience at Cronite Casting Ltd. James assisted in various departments including wax moulds, pattern fixing and CAD. This is where he discovered he wanted to build boats for a career. He hopes the skills learnt from the 38 week course will help him fulfill this dream.

Ken Bromage

Ken Bromage

Having served in the Royal Navy for 25 years, Ken decided it was time for a complete change and believed the 38 week course would be an excellent opportunity to take him in a new direction.  Ken aspires to establish a co-operative to promote sustainable fishing using traditionally designed fishing boats, employing young ex service men and women.

Mark Ashman

Mark Ashman

Mark worked in the pub industry for 13 years – the last three as landlord of the Three Elms in Sherborne. Mark sold the pub just before the course started in March, has relocated to the area and is ready for a brand new start. We first met Mark’s partner, teacher Esther, when she visited one of her students who was on work experience at the Academy.

Michael Tyler

Michael Tyler

Michael lives in Sidmouth, just along the coast from Lyme Regis. After travelling Australia and the Far East in 2009 he returned and started a career in a high street bank as a customer adviser, but his heart belonged to boat building and the Boat Building Academy, where he has wanted to study for years. His keen interest in boat building stems from his time studying sculpture at Art College, where he made great use of driftwood as a medium. He is now putting all his energies into fulfilling his dream of becoming a boat builder.

Phillip Ambler

Phillip Ambler

Phillip visited the Academy five years ago with his son, who was thinking of joining the 38 week course. His son decided to go to university, but Phillip, a GP in Oxfordshire for 27 years, felt that he had found something in which he could engross himself on retirement that would be as fascinating as medical school. Phillip has now retired, apart from trips to help with cataract surgery for Burmese refugees, and would like to work building and maintaining boats for people who have neither the time nor the skills to do it themselves.

Rob Stewart

Rob Stewart

Rob has worked as an Assistant Factory Manager for Bennett Surfboards in Australia, a beach Lifeguard in Devon, a self-employed Handyman, A full-time athlete at the University of London Rowing Club and most recently as a Geography teacher. Very keen on water sports Rob has surfed and rowed for a number of years. In July 2010 he took time out from teaching to cycle 4808 miles from New York to San Francisco via most of Southern Canada. View his adventures here. Rob has completed a City & Guilds Carpentry and Joinery qualification and will make a new career out of the skills he learns at the Academy.

Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson

One of the youngest members of the group, Ryan joined the Academy from Leicester where he worked in the motor industry, most recently as Apprentice Manager for a Vehicle Auction Group. He has ‘dabbled’ a bit in woodworking but wants to take his skills to another level. He enjoys Sailing and just about anything to do with boats and water.

Shane Butcher

Shane Butcher

Shane, a BEng (Hons) in Civil Engineering, has worked in the construction  industry for over 18 years, predominantly within nuclear licensed sites, but most recently gaining experience in the water sector whilst working as a design liaison engineer for Black & Veatch. With a keen passion for sailing, woodwork and D.I.Y., Shane came to the Academy from Torpoint in Cornwall to bring all of those interests together in learning the craft of boat building.