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. All mainly due to enthusiastic, skilled and patient tuition from Jack Chippendale, Dick Philips, John Stuckey and Roy Gollop.’
David joined the Academy’s Long Course on his retirement in 2003 after a career as a Chartered Surveyor in London. Wanting to build a ‘serious’ boat David and a team of students started on the construction of a Nordic Folkboat, which only just fit the workshop. However the time schedule proved to be a little over ambitious and the boat was not finished by the end of the course. The half built fragile structure including the moulds, hard back and a temporary deck had to be carefully moved from the BBA onto a trailer and transported to a shed on the Exeter Canal Basin.
Over a four year period the planking and deck was complete. David’s Nordic Folkboat Lady Linda was finally launched at the new Olympic Marina on Portland Harbour in April 2009. After a move to Lymington she went on to take part in four Round the Island Races, countless club races and eight Folkboat Weeks.
As for work, David tells us that he was press ganged into becoming the Class Measurer for the National X Boat Class after another Boat Building Academy ‘old boy’ stepped down. He continued with that job for three years until in 2013 the UKʼs National Folkboat Association were looking for a Technical Chairman. David was approached for the job with words to the effect ‘you know one end of a tape measure from the other’ and so like a lamb to the slaughter David accepted that role and has been doing it ever since.
Thinking back to his course and what he’s achieved since David told us – ‘It would not have been possible for me to fulfil either of these important roles without the knowledge gained from the clever instructors at the BBA to whom I am eternally grateful. I am almost always in the middle of a woodworking project of one kind or another usually involving boats and I am currently teaching woodwork to a young local sailor who shows signs of wanting to build his own boat one day.’
David remembers the first day of the course when Dick told the assembled students ’Ladies and gentlemen – this is easy just concentrate, make sure your pencils and tools are always sharp, concentrate and youʼll be fine’. ‘Little did we know. Dick was dead right and now when I’m doing ordinary DIY, maintenance and repair to Lady Linda or making a piece of furniture I apply those simple common sense principles. My year at the Lyme Regis Boatbuilding School (soon to become the Boat Building Academy) was one of the best years of my life. From the brilliant instruction I received I learnt never-to-be-forgotten high standards of discipline relating to planning, patience, accuracy, structures, teamwork and use of materials which I still employ on a daily basis.’