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Spencer Pettitt and Geoff Rhodes

A Suffolk carpenter has been crowned the best apprentice in the country by a leading institute.

Spencer Pettitt aged 27, from Red Lodge in Suffolk has hit the nail on the head by changing careers and winning a national award from the Institute of Carpenters (IOC), winning the 3rd Year Student Award for 2021.

The apprentice gained a degree in sports science after high school but after working for two years in sports rehab he decided to change direction and retrain.

This year’s Awards have been kindly sponsored by four major companies from across the wood industry: Axminster Tools, IronmongeryDirect, specialist screws and fixings producer Reisser Ltd and OSB and MDF manufacturers: MEDITE SMARTPLY.

The Judges for this year’s competition were IOC President Geoff Rhodes, IOC board member Martin Corton of Rainleaf, who also sponsored the magnificent trophy (carved by honorary IOC member Andy Peters of Maritima Wood Carving), and UK Construction YouTube star, Fix Radio carpentry presenter and IOC Fellow, Robin Clevett.

The Judges for this year’s competition were IOC President Geoff Rhodes, IOC board member Martin Corton of Rainleaf, who also sponsored the magnificent trophy (carved by honorary IOC member Andy Peters of Maritima Wood Carving), and UK Construction YouTube star, Fix Radio carpentry presenter and IOC Fellow, Robin Clevett.

3 IOC Spencer Pettitt and Geoff Rhodes

As part of his entry, winner Spencer Pettit said: “Having tutors that really care about your progress and the information they are teaching made it a process that I would recommend to anyone who is looking to work in carpentry or construction. It opens so many doors and opportunities that shape a career.

“I am excited for the future of construction as an industry. I can see a move towards a more sustainable, forward thinking and empathetic environment. Personally, I cannot wait to merge my passion for the traditional carpentry techniques and materials, that has grown while working with listed buildings, with innovative ideas and designs that will have a positive impact on the environment for the future. Finally, and importantly, I am mindful of creating a work life that keeps the physical and mental wellbeing of employees a number one priority - something I believe is essential in the continuation of this incredible field.”

Geoff Rhodes, IOC President, comments: “One of the driving forces behind our work at the IOC currently is recognising the acute shortage of qualified Carpenters and Joiners across the UK. We launched this 3rd Year IOC Student Award scheme across our 35 IOC member Colleges two years ago to help inspire, improve and address the nation’s woodworking skills deficit. By providing support and encouragement to all those embarking on their training in these fields, and then moving into subsequent chosen careers, we can celebrate the achievements of specific students who demonstrate the commitment and skills the construction industry so needs.”

Martin Corton, Rainleaf Artisan Floorist, judge, sponsor of the magnificent carved trophy and IOC board member, adds: “This year, the second year of the award, has seen three exceptional students come before the IOC panel. It is amazing and encouraging to think that the bar has been raised from last year’s high benchmark. All three students displayed different skill sets and unique qualities. This, I believe, is testament to the college system that allows talent of all kinds to flourish. Three gifted students, with Spencer Pettitt at West Suffolk College a worthy winner.”

Robin Clevett of the YouTube Channel, UK Construction, and an IOC Fellow, says: “It has again been an honour to be a judge for the Institute of Carpenters 3rd Year Student Award. I can remember well my own training at college and how empowering it felt for me learning a craft. Seeing the level of skill from the nominated entrants has made me appreciate my craft and its future even more. We are seeing an unprecedented skills shortage in the UK construction industry and our entrants represent the future of the craft. I feel that the worthy winner, Spencer, has shown a wide ranging set of skills. He has also demonstrated that, even as a mature student, in changing from unfulfilling career pathways to choosing a career in carpentry and joinery, our trade is alive and well. I would also like to praise the other colleges and nominees for entering this year.”

Read the story on suffolknews.co.uk | Browse courses including carpentry and joinery (16 to 18) | Part time courses for adults | Apprenticeships