Apprentice joiner wins national award

Ben James receives his Apprentice of the Year Award from the British Woodworking Federation. NNL-141126-100157001
Ben James receives his Apprentice of the Year Award from the British Woodworking Federation. NNL-141126-100157001

An apprentice joiner from Daventry has picked up a prestigious Apprentice of the Year Award.

Ben James, 20, who lives in Franklin Way, received the award – intended to recognise excellence – at a ceremony hosted last Friday by the British Woodworking Federation at the Ironmongers’ Hall in London.

The event was attended by firms from across the country, including Ben’s employer Tompkins Joinery, based on the Drayton Fields industrial estate.

Ben’s family was also present to mark the occasion, as well as his girlfriend Morgan Devenney, 19.

Morgan said: “We are all so proud of him, Ben’s mother was speechless. But Ben deserves it, we know all the work he has put towards it. He is always the first into work and the last one out, and he will help anybody with anything.”

To attain the award Ben submitted photos and detailed plans of his work, including a polo mallet, Gothic style table and chair set and a set of windows and doors he completed in just 160 hours over two weeks. This was accompanied by a write up from his college tutor and a reference from his manager at Tompkins.

Ben said: “I am over the moon to have won. I originally went in for the award after my boss at Tompkins came up to me and said he wanted to put me forward.

“Joiners don’t often get the opportunity to go in for awards like this. It is nice to be recognised.”

Ben attended Northampton College and has been an apprentice joiner for four years.

He will complete his course in April next year, after which he said he wishes to remain at Tompkins.

“I enjoy working on furniture,” Ben said. “I prefer being able to do intricate, detailed work where I can take my time to get something just right.”

Founded by Andy Tompkins, the firm has been trading in and around Daventry since 1978. Specialising in bespoke work, the company’s continued expansion saw it move to a new, larger premises on Drayton Fields in 2010.

Currently Tompkins is offering a number of apprenticeship to young joiners through their association with Northampton College .