Apprentices Left Inspired by Shipwrights’ 2013 Lectures


More than 250 apprentices, students and graduates, together with their managers and lecturers from a range of high profile marine employers including Berthon, Lyme Regis Boatbuilding Academy, Pendennis, RNLI, Sunseeker, students from the University and local colleges attended the 2013 Annual Shipwrights’ Lecture, on the 23rd October.

The event, held with the support of and at the University of Southampton, brought together a diverse range of prestigious speakers from within Britain’s marine industry. The experts explored the opportunities and breadth of the career paths available to the sector’s young people today, predicting what the future holds for the industry and offering key career advice.

The opening session was an interactive panel discussion, chaired by James Grazebrook OBE, who was joined by five industry specialists who studied the ways the industry continues to improve its environmental responsibilities. The discussion touched on a number of subjects from paint to exhaust emissions, resin infusion, hybrid power, noise levels and waste-water filtration, giving a detailed insight into how far we have progressed and what the industry can expect in the coming years. This stimulated a lively exchange of thought provoking questions from the young attendees.


Two former apprentices from luxury boatbuilder Sunseeker then took to the stage, providing an entertaining summary of their progression into the positions they now hold. Phil Lambert, Warranty Engineer and Phil Longhurst, Process Engineer, both then offered their advice to the apprentices on how best to achieve their career aspirations for the future.

Third to take to the stage was Sean McMillan. Sean told of his remarkable career path, and how he has progressed to become the founder and Managing Director of Spirit Yachts, the wooden epoxy yacht building company widely recognised as the most significant builder of classic sailing yachts in the world. Sean’s enthralling story of how his career has unfolded was highly amusing as well as truly inspirational, and one that every member of the audience is sure to remember.


One of the organisers of the event, Shipwright Michael Derrick, commented, “The annual Shipwrights Lectures offer an excellent opportunity for apprentices to learn valuable lessons from real life experiences as well as hear from stimulating figures who have started their own companies and achieved successful and inspiring careers within the industry.

The event was heavily praised by Alex Bowman, Training Manager of Sunseeker, who attended the lecture along with over 50 of the company’s apprentices. Following the event, Alex commented, “The Shipwrights’ lecture is now an extremely important part of our apprentices’ development and it continues to enrich their programme, their development and the reputation of our own scheme.”

Mike Carr, Pendennis Joint Managing Director, said, “I was truly impressed by the lectures and all the Pendennis apprentices that attended felt that the speakers were most inspirational.”

The Closing Speaker was leading industrialist and prominent marine industry figure, Murray Easton CBE. Murray, first began working in the shipbuilding industry at Yarrow nearly 40 years ago since when he has held a range of high profile roles at leading international companies in the marine sector. He first offered a summary of the afternoon before giving the final words of advice to some of the industry’s most promising young people.

Comments and Remarks from Companies 

Scorpion RIBS“I find the lectures very informative and they give me a wider spectrum and knowledge of the marine industry.”

“I found the talks great. It has helped me put my goals and career pathways into perspective.”

“Lectures were informative and highlighted future career pathways available.”

“It was very enjoyable and worthwhile afternoon.  It was great for me to see a different side to the industry which I do not see whilst on the ‘shop floor’. It also made me aware of the vast opportunities available within the marine industry.”

Pendennis, MD“I was personally very impressed and inspired by the lectures.  I will canvas my team for their individual perspectives but I do know that they all thought it was most inspirational.”

Sunseeker, Training Manager“On behalf of all the Sunseeker apprentices, thank you for providing such an inspirational event.  Feedback from apprentices has been very positive.  They were certainly inspired by the all the speakers and I am now concerned that they all wish to work for Spirit Yachts!  The WCS lecture is now an extremely important part of our apprentices’ development and it continues to enrich their programme, their development and the reputation of our own scheme.”