The Queen'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 apprentices from yards across the  United Kingdom to apply for the Queen'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 indentify six candidates for the final interviews in London.

These interviews are the culmination of the QSM Competition and competition is extremely tough.  The final interviews result in the award of The Queen’s Silver Medal and £1500, the Shipwrights’ Bronze Medal and £1000 and the Derek Kimber Medal and £750.  The winner of the prize for Most Notable Endeavour on the course at Kielder receives £500 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, 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 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.

QSM winners in Ironmongers' Hall

What’s stopping you? Are you up for a challenge?  Apply now and reap the rewards!

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 2022 flyer can be dowloaded here and will give additional information.

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

Please view some recent candidate feedback below.

Feedback from candidates