The past three years have been tough but happy and successful for 32 year old Darek Malecki.


At the age of 29 he decided on a career change and began an apprenticeship in stonemasonry.


While he was working to complete this he and his partner Rebecca started a family when daughter Ruby Mae was born.


At the end of three years study Darek recently completed his apprenticeship and Friday brought him even more success.


At a ceremony in London he received an award after being named 2013 Trainee Mason of the Year by Stone Federation Great Britain.


He was nominated by Simon Armstrong, his employer at Wells Cathedral Stonemasons, who said, “To undertake a three-year apprenticeship in stonemasonry as a 17 year old living at home requires real commitment.


“Imagine what it takes from someone in their late 20’s, with wife, family and all the pressures they bring.


“His passion for his craft has driven him to excel in all aspects of stonemasonry. We have an exceptional apprentice who is an integral part of the workforce and who will become invaluable asset for the future of our business. “


Scottish born Darek now lives in Moorelinch near Taunton in Somerset and trained at Weymouth College. His lecturer Darren Lawrence said “He has continually worked to an exceptionally standard both in the classroom and the workshop.”


Before starting his apprenticeship Darek had been employed by a period interiors company and specialised in timber restoration.


One weekend he decided to go to a workshop run by a local stone carver. “We got on well and I started doing odd bits of jobs.  He arranged for me to undertake work experience at

Wells Cathedral and it all started from there.”


“I was really chuffed when I discovered I had won this award. It was a nice way to end my three-year apprenticeship. It made it all the sweeter and my family is proud of me.


“I chose a career in the industry because of the satisfaction of knowing that I have created something that will be admired by people from all walks of life for many years to come”


Darek received the award from TV personality Tommy Walsh during the Stone Federation’s 2013 Natural Stone Awards presentations at Lord’s cricket ground in London.


The Federation’s Chief Executive Jane Buxey said “People like Darek are the future of our industry and that is why the Federation, its member companies and some excellent colleges around Britain are investing time and money in training.”