The student award

Four students in their third year of carpentry & joinery studies at college are the first to receive an inaugural 3rd Year Student Award from the Institute of Carpenters (IoC). Matthew Mead, a student at the Building Crafts College in London, won the overall prize for the Best 3rd Year Student, and receives a set of tools donated by Axminster Tools. Martin Gilmore, student at Newcastle College, Phillip Bentley, student at Accrington & Rossendale College (part of the Nelson & Colne College Group), and Owen Phillips, student at Coleg Sir Gâr’s Ammanford Campus in Wales, all received High Commended for their entries and an Axminster Tools voucher.

A set of Axminster Rider tools

Meet the judges

This is the first IoC 3rd Year Student Award. Judges were IoC board member Martin Corton of Rainleaf Artisan Flooring, well-known carpentry & joinery YouTuber and IoC Fellow, Robin Clevett of UK Construction and the SkillBuilder channel, and Institute President, Geoff Rhodes.

When asked about his experience of judging the competition, Martin Corton said:

It was a great pleasure to judge the entrants for the IoC’s 3rd Year Student Awards. All entrants displayed great craft ability and thorough technical knowledge, but the highlight was the exceptional attitude from all four entrants. Carpentry and joinery is a ‘calling’ and it looks like these four students have a wonderful future ahead of them.

Matthew Mead, overall winner and and IoC president Geoff Rhodes
Left to right: Matthew Mead, overall winner and student at The Building Crafts College London and IoC president Geoff Rhodes

Robin Clevett was seriously impressed with the level of skill and talent demonstrated as part of this year's awards, he commented:

This year’s winner demonstrated a standard of craftsmanship that would rival other craftsmen from around the world. Our strong craft heritage in the UK will be in safe hands going forward if we can deliver the training and encourage new entrants to gain a similar level of skill to those witnessed in this year’s contest.

Building a sustainable future

As a business, Axminster Tools are passionate about woodworking and helping to build a sustainable future for the industry. In view of that, we actively seek to support the education of vital woodworking skills. Darran McLeod, Sales Director at Axminster Tools said:

We work with The Furniture Makers' Company in helping to bridge the 'making' skills gap and so supporting The Institute of Carpenters with an award for emerging new talent seemed like a natural fit for us. We're proud to be in the fortunate position to do what we can for the makers of the future and help them with the first steps to a successful career in the woodworking industry.

Stevie Taylor with Highly Commended student Martin Gilmore of Newcastle College
Left to right: John Wade, Tutor, Newcastle College; Martin Gilmore, Highly Commended; Stevie Taylor, Technical Consultant, Axminster Tools

The Institute plans to run the award scheme again in 2021, widening it further amongst its network of 30 College members. Geoff Rhodes, IoC President summarised:

I was really so delighted to see the high quality of entries from these colleges, spread across the UK. All of the students individually can be very proud to have been selected as a candidate by their respective colleges, and I am sure that each of them will progress successfully through their remaining time in college and on into their professional careers, at this time of a national craft skills shortage.