Following a fantastic dinner at Trinity House Newcastle a contingent from the Shipwrights made the journey to Kielder Water on the Scottish Border to meet the competitors of the 2015 Queens Silver Medal. This year we had a very strong group hailing from BAE Systems, Babcock Marine, Berthon Boat Company, Cammell Laird Shipyard, Sunseeker International and Gibdock.
The instructors at Hawkhirst had been pushing the candidates hard with team building challenges already by the time we arrived and the apprentices were involved in purchasing materials to build their teams rafts for the infamous QSM Raft Race. The teams had a budget to buy barrels, rope and wooden poles for the frames but how much would they need to buy for the designs they had come up with? Getting this right is critical for success.
The three teams came up with and constructed three very different and interesting raft designs and with a very short opportunity to see if their craft floated they lined up for the race. The aim was to cross the inlet of the lake, lift the raft out, turn around and return. Of the three rafts two made it across intact, one made it back in one piece, but I wouldn’t say dry, and one team, unfortunately only made it a few meters from the shore before losing vital components. They did, however, persist and swam their raft across the dark, cold lake and back, we commend them highly for it.
It was fabulous to see these young people at the start of their careers being taken away from familiar surroundings, rising to so many challenges and enjoying it in the process. I managed to follow up with a few of the competitors the following week at the Apprentice Graduation Ceremony hosted by British Marine at the Southampton Boat Show and they assured me that everyone survived and that they thoroughly enjoyed that evenings hike and night under the stars. It was a tough week for the apprentices but it will be even tougher to pick the winners, watch this space.