John Briggs' story
John travelled across Europe to find out how training for stonemasons differed from the British model, and to bring back examples of best practice to the UK.
John, a stonemason with 40 years’ experience, travelled throughout Europe to find out what provision was available for training stonemasons. He visited a number of significant buildings and established contacts with several leading tradesmen. John was particularly impressed with the Compagnons in France, who have established around forty training centres across the country, and encourage their apprentices to travel between centres in order to gain experience of working in different environments.
On his return to England, John was approached by Chrissie Chalmers, a Worklessness Development Officer with Norfolk Council, who encouraged him to attain a teaching qualification in the lifelong learning sector. This led to a collaboration on a day of teaching for young people looking for work in rural areas.
More recently John has been involved with the Great Yarmouth Cemeteries Project, a community-based project which teaches young people and volunteers how to repair the stonework on damaged and neglected headstones. The project was funded by English Heritage and was shortlisted for The English Heritage Angel Awards.
John is also going to be participating in the transformation of St John’s Church in Great Yarmouth into a Heritage Training Centre. He will be teaching heritage skills and stonemasonry as well as being involved in the running of the centre.