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”.