Kingston Maurward College has hosted a unique event to showcase students and facilities in its Welding, Fabrication and Blacksmithing academy.
The ‘Forging and Welding Links’ event – the brainchild of tutors Brian Hill and Simon Grant-Jones – was masterminded to show local businesses the quality of work the students produce, and their skills, knowledge and readiness to enter into industry.
More than sixty guests attended the invitation-only event – including Peter Lauener Chief Executive of the Skills Funding Agency , Chairman of Dorset County Council John Wilson, Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths’ Prime Warden Elect, Nigel Whitehead, plus mayors, local dignitaries and businesses – and three times’ Dorchester Mayor and blacksmith Leslie Phillips – dubbed by locals, the ‘Original Mayor of Casterbridge’.
The event included tours of the workshops and formal gardens, speeches by Principal Claire Davison and master blacksmith Simon Grant Jones, after which guests were treated to lunch in the ornate Pengelly Room in the Georgian main house.
Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths’ Prime Warden Elect, Nigel Whitehead, said: “Were proof ever needed to demonstrate the value and success of essential skills training, it is here for all to see. Young people are being given an opportunity to learn a craft that will stand them in good stead throughout their lives. Today’s visit by business leaders, local Government dignitaries and potential employers was arranged for them to see first-hand the quality of the training being given at Kingston Maurward College. The enthusiasm and pride with which the students go about their work is a credit to the College, which provides strong support to its Blacksmith and Welding department run by Simon Grant- Jones AWCB.
“To discover today that there have already been nearly forty new applications for the three year blacksmithing and welding course starting this September emphasises the great need for such skills training.
“Of notable interest is the opportunity that comes through the Buckler’s Mead School Art & Design department which offers its students as young as Year 7 a chance to try blacksmithing and welding as part of their course and a recent success story was of one such student, who, after completing the College course, went straight into employment.
“Congratulations to the College, the College Principal Clare Davison, and all the staff involved with the Blacksmithing Department and may it continue Forging and Welding Links for years to come.”
Guided by Simon Grant Jones the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths has been in support of the College for several years, and this year once again granted bursaries to Kingston Maurward College students for materials and equipment relevant to their course, saying that they were delighted that they had been able to assist up and coming exponents of this ancient craft.
Due to the success of the inaugural event, the College is considering rolling out similar events in other subject areas to allow local industry to meet the workforce of the future, with a view to potentially become more involved with the college at an early stage.