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’ (the last of which is exhibited on Unst in the Shetland Isles). In 2005 Gail was named British Marine Federation Trainee of the Year. Immediately after the course she worked in Ireland on a 38’Atlantic Challenge gig build. On her return to England she built a 12′ clinker sailing dinghy while working part-time as an Instructor at the Academy. When newly-formed Lyme Regis Gig Club asked the Boat Building Academy to tender to build their first gig Gail was central to our decision to proceed. She project managed the build of ‘Rebel’, involving students and the local community. Gail has built two further gigs for Lyme Regis as an independent. She was awarded a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship to build a Lerret (traditional Dorset fishing boat) ‘by eye’, mentored by Lyme Regis boat builder Roy Gollop. In 2012 Gail was one of two people highly commended for the Prince Philip medal, awarded at Buckingham Palace by The Princess Royal. Gail has raised the profile of the craft of traditional wooden boat building. She has spoken about her craft at the Victoria and Albert Museum and on the BBC among other places.
Gail’s work was recognised in 2014 with the award of a British Empire Medal for services to Heritage Crafts and Clinker Boat Building. Gail still lives and works in Lyme Regis and is a regular visitor to the Academy, as well as donning her waders for every boat launch. In the Spring of 2017 she starts her next project, around the Lerret.