Young stonemason wins Apprentice of the Year

Apprentice Tyler Wallace from South Shields achieved recognition for his hard work and dedication to learning how to care for historic buildings at an award ceremony on 29 October 2021, where he was announced as the Constructing Excellence NE G4C Trade Apprentice of the Year. 

Tyler joined Historic Property Restoration Ltd in 2019 on an apprenticeship run in partnership with the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT), working on the conservation and restoration of Grade I listed Holy Trinity Church, Sunderland’s original parish church in the East End of the city.  From the outset he had a spark and a can-do attitude, earning the nickname ‘Tyler the Tank’ for his phenomenal work ethic.  Initially working across a range of mainstream and specialist heritage trades, he discovered a passion and flair for stonemasonry, a traditional craft practised for many hundreds of years and vital to the continuing care and conservation of our region’s historic places of worship and other buildings. 

“Tyler was always to be found with the stonemasons on-site, learning from their experience and practising at home so that he was soon able to work on the church tower with the project architect’s endorsement.  This award is very much deserved; the resilience of the heritage construction sector relies on us being able to pass our skills on to the next generation, and with young people like Tyler joining the trade the future is in safe hands” said Kevin Dunn, Contracts Manager for HPR Ltd who also worked on Holy Trinity Sunderland as a young stonemason.

Not only has Tyler worked hard on site, but he has also demonstrated maturity and commitment across his work and personal life, using his first month’s salary to purchase his own masonry chisels, learning to drive and buying his own car, and saving to treat his loved ones.  He has demonstrated leadership qualities throughout, taking younger trainees under his wing, acting as a role model for his siblings, and even returning to his past training provider to demonstrate heritage craft skills to tutors and learners. 

Tyler’s apprenticeship was generously funded by All Churches Trust as part of the Seventeen Nineteen Craft Skills programme, a programme of training and engagement activities linked with the restoration of Holy Trinity which offered opportunities for all to learn, develop skills and gain qualifications.  In addition to salary and training costs, this funding allowed Churches Conservation Trust R to provide additional support and one-to-one mentoring for Tyler and other trainees at Holy Trinity, particularly important as working through the pandemic brought uncertainties, fears and the need to adjust to new ways of working safely. 

Andrew Bass, Grants Officer for Allchurches Trust, said: “We were delighted to hear that Tyler won this prestigious award and proud that our funding of his apprenticeship has given him this wonderful opportunity. Having met Tyler, I have seen how hard-working he is and it is fantastic to see that his effort, enthusiasm and dedication has been recognised. Congratulations Tyler!”

As a result of his drive, commitment and growing skills, Tyler has taken up permanent employment with HPR Ltd and has recently begun specialist stone masonry training at York College.  All at Churches Conservation Trust and HPR Ltd can’t wait to see the amazing work he will do in future years!

Find out more about Seventeen Nineteen here