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.

The King's Silver Medal Competition 2023 - Kielder

The video below gives an overview of the Phipps Leadership and Development Course, the residential phase of the King's Silver Medal Competiton that takes place at Kielder Water.

Shipwrights visiting candidates on the Leadership and Team Building Course run at Kielder Water

Shipwrights visiting candidates on the Leadership and Team Building Course run at Kielder Water

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.

A candidate gets to grips with the course

Andrew Finlayson - QSM Winner 2018

Andrew Finlayson - QSM Winner 2018

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.  In addition to their medals and reward every prize winner is presented with a certificate and in the case of the Winner ofthe King's Silver Medal Competition this is signed by the Permanent Master, HM The King.


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.

Participants enjoying the Kielder Course.

Participants enjoying the Kielder Course.

The 2024 King's Silver Medal Competition is now open for applications!

The dates for the 2024 competition are:

  • By 31 May 2024 - Completed applications submitted to the Shipwrights' Company
  • By 30 June 2024 - Selection of participants confirmed by letter and email to applicant and Company
  • 8 - 13 September 2024 - Phipps Leadership & Development Course at Kielder Water, Northumberland
  • 28 November 2024 - Final Interviews at the Shipwrights' Offices in London
  • 16 January 2025 – KSM Prize Winners’ Lunch and presentation of prizes by the Prime Warden.

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?

Click here to download an application form.

The 2024 KSM flyer can be dowloaded here and provides additional information.

Click here to view a list of previous King's and Queen's Silver Medal Winners.

Please find some recent candidate feedback at the link below.

Feedback from candidates

The 2023 Prize Winners

The 2023 Prize Winners

The King’s Silver Medal Competition 2023.  The final interviews for the King’s Silver Medal Competition 2023 took place on 23 November 2023 when six finalists were interviewed by the KSM panel at the Company offices.   The Prime Warden awarded the medals to the prize winners on Thursday 11 January 2024 at Ironmongers’ Hall.  The Prize Winners were:

The King’s Silver Medal & £2,000 - Callum Ferns, RNLI

The Shipwrights’ Bronze Medal & £1,500 - Ryan Gay, A&P Falmouth

The Derek Kimber Medal & £1,000 - Matt Snushall, RNLI

Certificate for Most Notable Endeavour & £750 - Kaylee McIsaac, BAE Systems

The Company Prize - The RNLI

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:

Cameron Rogers, Babcock International - QSM Winner 2021

Hollie Keenan, BAE Systems - KSM Winner 2022

Charlie Stuckman, BAE Systems - Derek Kimber Medal 2022

Pendennis Apprentices and the King’s Silver Medal