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The University of Southampton
Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

Shipwrights Lecture inspires the next generation

Published: 17 October 2012
Shipwrights Lecture

More than around 200 apprentices, shipwrights and students were inspired at the Annual Shipwrights Lecture.

Around 250 apprentices, shipwrights and students together with their managers, lecturers and guests attended the Annual Shipwrights Lecture in Southampton on Wednesday 17th October to hear speakers from diverse disciplines highlight the breadth and opportunities of the British leisure marine industry. The speakers, many of whom were former apprentices themselves, engaged the audience with highly informative and amusing presentations which inspired a lively exchange of thought provoking questions from the young attendees.

The Turner Sims theatre at the University of Southampton welcomed apprentices from both the large marine employers including Sunseeker, Princess, SYS, Pendennis, the RNLI, Berthon and Discovery Yachts as well as specialist marine supply companies such as Trimline and Halyard and graduates from all the main local Universities and colleges.

The lecture was opened with an interactive and extremely illuminating panel discussion chaired by Sue Grant, Managing Director of Berthon International, which spelt out, using real life examples, the importance of sound boat building procedures and the far reaching effects of poor workmanship on the wider marine sector. The discussions provoked some highly appropriate questions from the apprentices and students and clearly demonstrated both the relevance of the subject matter and the valuable lessons to be learnt at all levels. Sue was supported by an impressive panel of marine experts, many former apprentices themselves, all with extensive experience in their individual fields.

This was followed by Tristan Jones, Joinery Manager and former apprentice at Pendennis Shipyard, who was able to give the audience an insight into his career progression from apprentice to member of the Senior Management Team at the prestigious superyacht shipyard. Since starting his apprenticeship course in 1998 Tristan has enjoyed a number of roles including Estimator, CAD Technician, Project Manager to his current position of Joinery Manager and member of the senior management team.

A change of tack followed, with an amusing and highly informative presentation from Andy Claughton, Director of Enterprise at Faculty of Engineering & Environment and Senior Research Engineer at the world-renowned Wolfson Unit. Andy reinforced the importance of getting the design and manufacturing right from the start of a project and engaged the audience with a raft of stories and video footage from his time as Design Research Coordinator with the New Zealand America’s Cup team. Andy also impressed the audience with the world-class capabilities of the university in using their wind tunnel and various tank testing facilities to improve and predict the performance of not only yachts and motor cruisers but also our Olympic cycling team as well as super-tankers.

The event was concluded with a fascinating and highly relevant talk from Robert Braithwaite CBE, President of Sunseeker International who shared his unique passion for the industry as well as his meteoric career progression, spanning nearly 50 years, from engine mechanic to head of one of the world’s most exciting global luxury brands. Robert encouraged the current generation of apprentices and students to always be good team players, to learn lessons from their mistakes, to be passionate about their industry and to create their own opportunities as he has done throughout his life. Robert closed by stressing the importance of today’s apprentices who will be the managers of tomorrow and the strength and success of the British marine industry in the future.

Josh Dean, 17, Marine Electrician apprentice from Sunseeker, commented on the event, “I think it was brilliant because I got to meet and listen to people that were apprentices, but who are now senior people in their company’s. It wasn’t all about motor yachts and included sail as well, so I got a good look at the industry and my career options.”

Alex Bowman, Training Manager of Sunseeker International added, “The support we get from the Worshipful Company of Shipwrigths enriches the Sunseeker apprentice programme. All of our apprentices that attended (52) were literally buzzing about the marine industry and the career journey they have started. I hope that events like these continue.”

Gary Oliver, Director of Trimline Ltd commented, “The Shipwrights Lecture offers an excellent opportunity for our apprentices to learn valuable lessons from real life experiences as well as hear from extremely interesting and iconic people who have achieved successful and inspiring careers within the industry. The afternoon has been an extremely valuable use of the apprentice’s time and I’ve personally been encouraged to see new energy and the next generation embracing this exciting industry.”

Brian May, Managing Director of Berthon International noted, “After many years of effort we now have schools, colleges and the Government supporting the apprenticeship programme; whilst a good number of marine boatbuilders are now taking on increasing numbers of apprentices we need more of the wider marine supply chain companies to commit to the apprenticeship programme. The advantages and importance of training the next generation cannot be underestimated and I’m delighted that all our speakers at the Shipwrights Lecture were so positive about the need for apprentices.”

Notes for editors

The Worshipful Company of Shipwrights was formed in 1387 as a Trade Guild to safeguard the quality of shipbuilding in London. Many of its current members work and employ young people in the marine leisure sector today. The Shipwrights have a long standing commitment to support education and charity in the maritime sector, with initiatives such as their annual Queen’s Silver Medal Award for marine apprentices. This closely fought competition takes 20 finalists on a five day outward bound course at Kielder each year, choosing winners from those who have demonstrated excellence in their written submissions, and allows many more to benefit from the charitable work of the Shipwrights. For more information please visit
The total revenue of the UK leisure, superyacht and small commercial marine industry is nearly £3billion per annum of which 37% is exported. The industry employs over 31,000 full time employees across over 4000 marine businesses.
Michael Derrick, Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights has been instrumental in instigating the Shipwrights Lectures together with fellow Liveryman James Grazebrook, Chairman of Halyard (M&I) Ltd and Freeman Nigel Stuart, Managing Director of Discovery Yachts.

For media enquiries please contact Sarah Johnson, 01243 370847
For other enquiries please contact Michael Derrick

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