Ben Collyns at work


Ben completed the Foundation’s Building Craft Apprenticeship (BCA) in 2012. Here he tells us what it was like:

"I applied for the BCA because it would help me bridge a gap between being a level 3 Thatcher fresh out of an apprenticeship and being ready to start my own business. It o ered the chance to get involved with a range of crafts and to study alongside other craftspeople. It could enhance my vocational skills with design knowledge, work experience and coaching required to pursue a career in the traditional building sector.

"From a young age I found it interesting how heritage buildings can tell a story about my local area and the people who lived there in the past. During this time I started to understand the importance of keeping our heritage through traditional crafts. I also became aware of the real shortage of craftspeople with heritage skills we actually have.

Thatched roof

What did you do

"After a week focusing on drawing and geometry with architectural drawing tours we went into the field. We worked with local craft expert teams to learn a huge variety of skills from dry stone walling to lime plastering. We also designed a structure to be built later.

It was a rare and enjoyable experience working alongside craftsmen and architectural students from around the world to design something we then went on to build. Learning a design proces from start to finish on the live build was a definite highlight of the course. And I made some great friends and contacts that I'm still in touch with now!".

Where did it take you?

"Studying the apprenticeship with the Foundation opened up new opportunities that I couldn't have anticipated. Shortly after it finished I was invited by the Foundation to Rose Town, Jamaica, as part of one of their international programmes, training local people in traditional crafts and building skills.

"I've also been invited back to teach at the Foundation's summer school. Working closely with a fellow graduate I worked on designing and building the Colemore Pavilion and the Peach House at Dumfries House estate in Scotland. I've been able to set up my own company and am delighted that using skills I have learnt over the past nine years I can now help others to puruse a career in traditional building crafts.

Working in Jamaica