In 2010, just one month after starting his apprenticeship, Thomas achieved his first win in the competition.

Last year he repeated the feat in the national finals after also topping the English/Welsh heats.

Now Thomas, who is 21, has again gone on to win the 2012 national competition after winning the English/Welsh heat, which was held at Weymouth College on 30th May.

So 2012 sees Weymouth College winning the team competition; with the top three finishers all block release students there. Other colleges taking part in this year’s UK Masonry Skills Challenge were: Bath College, Building Crafts College, Elgin Stonemasonry, Moulton College, Telford College and York.

The Scottish/Irish heat which was held at Edinburgh’s Telford College on 23rd May, was won jointly by George Marshall and John Reid with Ivan Wood in third place.

Competitors had to complete a specific project in an agreed time. They were given a drawing, a piece of Portland Stone and the materials necessary for making moulds and templates. The stone then had to be worked with a traditional mallet and chisel and no mechanical tools were allowed.

The challenge is open to teams of three apprentices from UK stonemasonry colleges and apprentices from seven colleges took part. It was staged in two heats and the scores from these heats were then amalgamated to decide the overall winners with the overall top three all coming from England.

Thomas, who lives in Weymouth, is in his third year of a block release course at Weymouth and is employed by Albion Stone Plc at Portland.

Runner up was Edward Shaw who is also in the third year of a block released at Weymouth College and works for Chichester-based Cathedral Works Organisation Ltd.

In third place was Darek Malecki, another year three student at Weymouth College, who works for Wells Cathedral Stonemasons Ltd in Cheddar.

As a result of his victory Thomas will receive a cheque for £300, with cheques for £200 and £100 going to the runner-up and third placed competitors respectively.

Team award winners Weymouth College will be presented with the Peter Ellis Shield and each team member receives a trophy and cheque for £50. Bath College finished second whilst Elgin Stonemasonry Unit came in third.

The competition was judged by Andy Maclean from Stewart Designs (UK) Ltd and Sean Collins from Boden and Ward Stonemasons Ltd and sponsored by BASF Construction Chemicals Ltd, Cathedral Works Organisation Ltd, Hutton Stone Co Ltd, Jeremy Carter Associates Ltd, Lithofin, PAYE Stonework and Restoration Ltd, Stone Productions Ltd, Stone Restoration Services Ltd, Stubbings Business Solutions, Solnhofen Stone Group GmbH, Szerelmey Ltd and Vaudin Stonemasons Ltd. The Portland stone was kindly provided by Albion Stone Plc.

Bristol-born Thomas Whitehead studied for an arts foundation diploma at Filton College where his lecturer noted his skill in carving and suggested stonemasonry as a career.

Stone Federation Chief Executive Jane Buxey commented: “Thomas is clearly exceptional but once again the overall skill level was very high throughout the competition.

“That is a tribute to the companies who are investing in training and the colleges that play such an important part in keeping this ancient skill alive and well.”

The top eight individual competitors qualified to enter Britain’s biggest skills competition, Skillbuild, which takes place at Preston College on 12th or 14th September.