The King's Silver Medal Competition
His Majesty King George VI, Permanent Master of the Shipwrights' Company, in 1944 instituted a Silver Medal to be awarded to the Shipyard Apprentice of the Year. Kenneth Wood was the first winner of the medal and the Company was charged with the administration of the competition (see photograph to the right). This it has been doing ever since, and in 1978 it added a Bronze Medal for the runner-up, and in 1998 another Bronze Medal for the best craftsman, in memory of the late Derek Kimber OBE, Prime Warden, and a noted shipbuilder with a particular interest in apprentice training.
Every year the Shipwrights’ Company calls for well motivated final year apprentices from shipyards, boatyards and the marine supply chain across the United Kingdom to apply for the King's Silver Medal Competition. Eighteen applicants are selected to attend the week long Phipps Leadership and Development Programme at Hawkhirst Scout Centre, a purpose built camp on Kielder Water in Northumberland.
The course, which is delivered by specialist tutors, is designed to be challenging but also to provide every participant with significant opportunities to learn and develop: self-assessment and peer review play a vital role in the process and participants receive individual guidance from the tutors and a personal report. The course reports are studied by a panel of Shipwrights who identify six candidates for the final interviews in London.
These interviews are the culmination of the KSM Competition and competition is extremely tough. The final interviews result in the award of The King’s Silver Medal and £2,000, the Shipwrights’ Bronze Medal and £1,500 and the Derek Kimber Medal and £1,000. The winner of the prize for Most Notable Endeavour on the course at Kielder receives £750 but is not necessarily a finalist - the award is specifically for the individual who has progressed the most.
The winners, with their families, are invited to attend a meeting of the Court of the Company in January for ceremonial presentation of their medals. In 1995, the 50th anniversary of the competition, the medal winners and their families were invited to Buckingham Palace to receive their awards from H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh, who was then the Permanent Master. This privilege was enhanced by the presence of Mr. Kenneth Wood, the first King's Medallist, who had become President of his own shipyard in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 2012 the then Prime Warden, H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, presented the medals to the winners and their families in the presence of a large gathering of the Livery at St. James' Palace.
The 2023 King's Silver Medal Competition is now well underway and planning has begun for 2024!
The remaining 2023 KSM Competition Dates are:
- 23 November 2023 – KSM Interviews in London
- 11 January 2024 – KSM Prize Winners’ Lunch
Looking forward to 2024 - the Phipps Leadership and Development Programme will take place at Kielder Water, Northumberland from - 8-13 September 2024.
Who can apply? Final year apprentices from all trade backgrounds and disciplines, in small or large companies, are eligible. There is no longer an upper age limit. Are you interested?
In addition, the following comments come from 2023 participants:
“I didn’t really get round to speaking to you 1 to 1 on Friday, just wanted to say thank you again for your efforts with the Kings Silver Medal. I am already seeing notable benefits in and out of work and feel really positive about the effects it will have for me going forward. It was definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done.”
"I would just like to thank you, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to attend the course it was such a great experience. It provided me with an opportunity to learn about myself and to grow as an individual and develop a new skill set. My confidence has grown massively as result of the course. I surprised myself throughout the week, and the things you can do on no sleep is astonishing.
The week was so well run and I would highly recommend it to anyone within the industry. Not only as a competition but as a life experience. It was also a good way to top off finishing my apprenticeship.
Again, please extend my gratitude to all involved for what was one of the most challenging however incredible experiences."
At the following links are videos made by previous particiants who are describing what the competition did for them - have a look: