30 Oct 2009

Dennis Jones awarded 'Project Craftsman of the Year'

"Quiet, unflappable and accommodating" is one description of Dennis Jones, who has been named 'Project Craftsman of the Year' in this year's Duke of Gloucester Awards competition, organised jointly by Stone Federation Great Britain and The Worshipful Company of Masons.

He is employed by Cathedral Works Organisation Ltd (CWO) of Chichester, West Sussex, and is the first winner of the new award, described as "an accolade for a stonemason with a minimum of five years' post-qualification experience, who has shown high standards and has a portfolio of projects that illustrate their work".

Dennis (58) who lives in Chichester has worked on fire damage repairs at Windsor Castle and the repair and restoration of St.George's Chapel at the castle, which won an award from the Stone Federation last year. He has also worked on projects at Chichester Cathedral, Hampton Court Palace and Christchurch Priory in Dorset.

In naming Dennis as their winner the assessors commented "He shone out way above most applicants, He is a man who has been in the industry since qualifying in 1972. He continues to pass on his skills and knowledge to other masons, demonstrates regularly that he can work on the tools but most importantly, he manages the team, the contract and instills confidence in the client."

Dennis received a certificate and cheque for £500 as his prize and confessed to being "embarrassed" when he first heard that he was the winner. "I am not one to showboat and make a fuss," he said, "but at the awards ceremony, when so many people were complimenting me, I began to feel that I did deserve the award. I know that I always try my best".

His career in stonemasonry began almost by accident. "I didn't really know what to do when I left school, but I got a job as a storeman in Chichester Cathedral. "I got friendly with the apprentice masons who were there and after a while decided that it might be a career that would be of interest to me. I was lucky enough to get a chance with CWO Ltd and have now been with them for 44 years".

Two Certificates of Merit were also awarded and they went to self-employed Piers Merry, whose projects include work at High Head Castle in Cumbria and to Ben Newman of Stonewest Limited, who has worked on high-profile projects in Trafalgar Square and Oxford Street, London.

Jane Buxey, Chief Executive of Stone Federation Great Britain said: "Awards for trainee and improver masons already existed but we felt there was also a need to recognise the more experienced craftsmen in our industry and Dennis is a worthy winner. The standard of entries was very high, but that was only to be expected when you see the wonderful work being carried out by craftsmen throughout Britain".

The Duke of Gloucester Awards were first introduced in 2007 in honour of the Duke, who is a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Masters and a member of its Court since1995.

This year's award for 'Improver Mason of the Year', sponsored by The Worshipful Company of Masons, went to Alan Spittle, who is employed at Salisbury Cathedral who said "I am fortunate that my work at the cathedral is varied and ensures that all aspects of being an improver mason are covered".



Members' News

Stone Federation would like to congratulate former Stone Federation President, Peter Harrison for being the recipient of the stone industry's highest award, the Duke of Gloucester Gold Medal.

Peter was presented with his medal by the Duke of Gloucester himself at Worshipful Company of Masons' Master's Banquet in London's Mansion House.

The Medal, which was introduced in 2010, is awarded every two years, to honour an individual in the craft of stonemasonry or the natural stone industry whose work is of considerable merit and who is acknowledged by his or her peers for the excellence of their contribution.

The idea for recognition for those in stonemasonry was originally mooted in the 1980s when it was noted that stonemasonry did not have any kind of recognition or a supreme accolade.


His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester, who trained as an architect and has an affinity for stonemasonry, also felt that some form of recognition should be created and was instrumental in developing the concept of a recognition for stonemasonry befitting the millennia-old craft.

Stone Federation are a member of EuroRoc, an organisation made up of the various European Federations for the dimensional stone industry.  The aim of the group is to coordinate questions of common interest and find solutions while promoting the use of dimensional natural stone.


The Federation's EuroRoc representative, Michael Poultney of Albion Stone along with Peter Harrison of Harrison Goldman, attended the latest meeting held at the Verona Stone Show in October.


There were a range of topics discussed, but shown are four discussions points that will be of particular interest to members.


1. Ethical Sourcing - There are various different degrees of controls of ethical sourcing across Europe and some is at a very local level.  It was accepted that the EU should be encouraging stones from ethical sources but there was some scepticism that a system with a high degree of certainty could be found in the short term.  It was agreed that the starting point should be to pool all the experiences from the differing methods currently being used by different, Countries, companies and organisations.

2. Geographical Protection - There was considerable support from across the EU and the robust comments from the UK were considered positive.  It is back with the European Parliament on what could be a long journey to possible implementation.  

3. Reporting Figures - There was concerns that the code numbers used for reporting production, imports and exports are not recording the dimensional stone figure accurately.  It was suggested that these should be related to the harmonised Product Standards (BS EN). Michael Poultney has been in dialogue with BGS and Eric Bignell at the Natural Stone Specialist magazine about the topic earlier in the month. Euroroc will progress the matter with the relevant authorities.

4. Silica Dust - There was a mixed response about the danger of the implementation of the dust regulations and the prospects of reducing the code.  It was agreed that the experiences from the implementation from national authorities will be requested.


With the island of Portland, from which the famous Portland limestone comes, being just off the Dorset coast from Weymouth, there could not have been a more appropriate material to use for a sculpture of the Olympic rings that has now been installed in the town that is hosting the Olympic sailing events. 

Burlington Stone has acquired the rights to quarry at Petts Quarry on Kirkstone Pass and Brathay Quarry near Ambleside following the regrettable demise of Kirkstone Quarries Ltd.

This new monument, costing £5 million, will commemorate the 55, 573 crew members of the RAF's Bobmer Command who were killed between 1939 and 1945.  The average age of those who lost their lives was just 22.

Albion Stone has recently purchased a new ‘JCB Fantini’, tractor mounted stone saw which will be used to increase efficiency in the Quarry & Mine.  This is the first machine of its type to be imported into any UK stone extraction operation. 


TV presenter, journalist and former conservative politician and Cabinet Minister, Michael Portillo made a fascinating tour of local natural stone producer, Burlington Stone of Kirkby-in-Furness, shown on 26th January on BBC2 at 6.30pm, as part of series three of the BBC’s popular travel documentary, Great British Railway Journeys.


A £500,000 investment into an innovative new roof for Albion Stone’s Factory is set to save thousands of pounds a year on their electricity bills.

Albion Stone supplied over 3m³ of Jordans Basebed and Jordans Whitbed in the form of treads risers, paving and memorial stones.

Taking centre stage on The Marshalls Garden That Kids Really Want! at the 2008 RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May the company utilised its own indigenous natural Yorkstone block to create two striking central features in this amazing organic playground.