Class of September 2008
The course started on 7th September 2008 and finished on 12th June 2009. The students’ average age was 39, and they came from a range of backgrounds; graphic design, farming, building, finance and water sports instruction to mention a few.
After completing the woodworking foundation phase, lofting, building stitch and tape dinghies in groups of four (the word competitive came to mind), oar and spar making, working with grp and deciding which boats to build they moved down to the main workshop floor on 5 January 2009 and started building their boats – with the inspiration of the class of March 2008’s boat launch in December to spur them on.
Most recently Alexander worked as a director of an engineering supplies company, but his career spans forestry work, leading overland holiday trips in Syria, Jordan, India and Nepal and driver/mechanic for trucks delivering medical aid in some very ‘inhospitable places’. Alexander wanted to learn something practical, and does not yet know whether the course will lead him to work in boatbuilding or woodworking.
Jerry, who left work as a builder and landscaper to come on the course, has worked in the financial services industry, as a silk screen printer and for the National Trust. He lives in Exeter, is interested in all types of wooden boats and hopes to work in their building, restoration and repair after the course.
Johnny joined us on a Basic Woodworking short course in June 2008 to see if he enjoyed the work. He loved it, and after a long career in the graphics and photography industries decided to swap the office and computer for the workshop. His ambition is to becomea skilled woodworker in the traditional boat building industry.
Mike comes from Cornwall and is a woodworking novice. He has a National Diploma in Outdoor Education along with other practical and outdoor qualifications involving speedsail, tennis assistant coaching and lifeguarding. After four years travelling in and around Bali, Canada and Australia, Mike returned to England to begin the course.
Neil was a last minute recruit onto the long course. Selling office furniture had become less and less interesting (he had also worked as a gardener and enjoyed a spell in Greece as a windsurf/dinghy instructor); training as a boat builder seemed an ideal career combination of his love of the water and working with his hands. Wally the Collie, who joined with Neil, is the Academy’s latest canine associate.
14 months ago Phil had a slight heart attack and decided to change his life. While boat building seems an ocean away from the financial services and parking industries he has spent his working life in, Phil’s father and grandfather were both shipwrights and he is actually returning to his roots. Phil describes himself as an ‘amateur but enthusiastic wood butcher’. That should all change…
After 30 years in a successful career on the railway Russell had the chance to change direction. He chose the course as an ideal pathway into a new career and finds the prospect of learning a trade and working with his hands very attractive. Russell hopes to use the boat building/restoration skills he learns on the course with his love of sailing and offshore Yachtmaster qualification to enter the marine industry as a Skipper or Bosun.
While Sadie was financial director of the family business she also worked as a volunteer at the Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust. For the Property Trust she undertook restoration work on boats ranging from the Queen’s launch ‘The Green Parrott’ to the Montague Whaler ‘Excellent’. She has a welding qualification and is a qualified over-head crane operator and Banks Man, as well as having a number of RYA certificates. She has come to the Academy to learn more about boat building.
Steve joined the Royal Navy at 16, spending 14 years in the catering branch. When he left in 1990 he and his wife bought and ran a B&B on Weymouth seafront. They ran the B&B for 17 years, along with a garden design, maintenance and construction business for 12 years. After selling the B&B Steve renovated an early 19th century cottage and has joined the Academy with a view to working in the marine industry after finishing the course. Steve’s hobbies include gardening, windsurfing, DIY, swimming and hill walking.
Teddy farmed in France for 25 years, after a life travelling the world. He has owned several boats and is now in a position to dedicate time to learning how to build them. On the course he will develop a boat which he hopes his 12 grandchildren will use.
Will joined the course fresh from a year touring and working on the Australasian continent. Prior to that he was a course tutor at Bicton College in Exmouth, teaching BTEC first diplomas in Sport. He has climbed Mont Blanc and completed the Karrimor International Mountain Marathon Event. Will is highly qualified in the educational, sport and marine fields and has wide sailing experience. By developing boat building skills he will be qualified to work in many areas of the marine industry.