Shipwrights Lectures 2016

The number of apprentices and students increased again this year with the
University of Southampton Turner Sims concert hall being very close to maximum on 19th October.

Shipwright and lectures organiser Sarah Fraser, who officiated throughout the event, welcomed the audience and thanked Employer and College principals for their tremendous support this year. The programme would include internationally respected panellists speaking on construction materials; two recently graduated Pendennis Shipyard apprentices; the Minister of State for Transport and finally the “Queen of the J class” and founder of the IYRS in Newport, Rhode Island. The afternoon would be concluded by Prime Warden Rear Admiral Sir Jeremy de Halpert KCVO CB and a presentation to the Shipwrights Prize 2016 winner Miss Kate Deveraux.

To start the proceedings Sarah introduced Matt Sheahan, the Head of Performance Sailing Sunset+Vine PLC to chair the Panel Discussion on “Construction Materials”. The panelists outlined their own career experiences then highlighted the strengths of their respective materials looking into how GRP and carbon composite manufacture has revolutionised the leisure marine sector, how relevant and important wood still is when building boats and how steel boats have no idea they are superyachts until they are fit out!

The panel experts were (L-R): Tristan Stone, Stones timber - Timber supplier and boat builder; Tom Kugelstadt, Scott Bader- Polyester resins; Chris Norman, Director Southampton Marine Services - Steel and aluminium; Phil Aikenhead, Gurit - High tech epoxy composites.

It was a privilege to have the Rt Hon John Hayes MP Minister of State at the Department of Transport address the audience. As a former minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong learning, he highlighted his deep appreciation for apprenticeships and the value of practical learning, commenting:

“ The passing-on of skill from one generation to the next, [is] proof that learning by doing is just as demanding and praiseworthy as learning from a book. So I am honoured to speak with you today. No one should overlook the importance of your task – of carrying on our country’s tradition of maritime achievement, innovation and leadership.”

Before then returning to London to launch the countdown to the London International Shipping Week 2017 that evening.

Sarah Fraser then introduced Molly Ransom & Adam Hall, both recently graduated Pendennis Shipyard apprentices, Molly as an engineer and Adam as a joiner.

They gave an excellent and amusing account of their experiences and the skills learned during their four year apprenticeship, highlighting the overall spirit of the Pendennis Shipyard. Their aspiration of joining the Pendennis management was manifested in their last slide into which they inserted their own pictures on a boardroom scene! A very polished and informative presentation from two great ambassadors of Pendennis.

The keynote speaker, Elizabeth Meyer,  travelled especially from Boston to address the apprentices. Her presentation, the account of her restoration of J class yachts ‘Endeavour’ (built in 1934)  and ‘Shamrock V’ (built in 1930), gripped everyone’s attention.  When first seen by Elizabeth, in 1983,  Endeavour was a hulk sitting at Calshot Spit in Fawley. Elizabeth, in her early 30’s,  sold up her real estate firm, moved to Fawley, hired workers and invested 95% of her financial assets in restoring Endeavour.  In 1986 Meyer also began the restoration of Shamrock V, completing both boats and running them in a series of regattas in 1989. A pivotal contributor to the restorations, the famous designer and Southampton resident, John Munford, was in the audience as Meyer spoke. The story was riveting with trials, tribulations and successes occurring throughout the project. It was clear that Elizabeth’s single mindedness was the driver and led to the addresses’ title,” Press on Regardless". It was an honour to have Elizabeth address us and we thank her enormously.

Photo of Elizabeth presenting

Endeavour before refit courteous of Beken & Endeavour sailing courtesy of Edmiston

The afternoon was closed by Prime Warden, Rear Admiral Sir Jeremy de Halpert who thanked all the speakers for their very special addresses and all the time and effort freely given for the benefit of the attending apprentices and students. Sir Jeremy gave a brief background to the Shipwrights Livery and details of the various charitable activities including the Shipwrights’ Apprenticeship Scheme, promoting by financial support, SME’s wishing to take on apprentices.’ and The Queens Silver Medal Award. Finally, Sir Jeremy called on Kate Devereux, to receive this year’s ‘Shipwrights Prize’ in recognition of her achieving the highest overall mark in her third year at the University, congratulations.

Kate now embarks on her fourth (Master’s) year studying Ship Science specialising in Yacht and High Performance craft.

A great big thank you to the organisers, contributors, sponsors; Southampton Marine & Maritime Institute at the University of Southampton & BMT Nigel Gee, employers, apprentices and students for making this another fantastic Shipwrights Lectures.