Former Young Craftsman of the Year Thomas Streeter

Thomas Streeter, 2015 winner of The Young Craftsmen of the Year competition

Thomas Streeter, 2015 winner of The Young Craftsmen of the Year competition - Credit: Archant

A previous winner of the South of England Agricultural Society’s Young Craftsman of the Year competition has used his success to open doors in the world of engineering

The South of England Agricultural Society in Ardingly is a charity that plays a significant role in introducing young people to the countryside and is committed to the ongoing support of young people in the rural industry through its shows, events, competitions, bursaries and scholarships that run throughout the year.

The Young Craftsman of the Year is one of the most prestigious competitions that the society organises each year, embracing two of the society’s objectives: to promote crafts and skills and to encourage young people to extend themselves and produce work of the highest standard.

One young rising star and two-time winner of the award is 19-year-old Thomas Streeter from Pulborough in West Sussex. This talented young man first wowed the judging panel in 2014 with his stunning beech wood open twist hollow form with a pewter decorative lid and foot which earned him first place. He then went on to win for an unprecedented second year in a row in 2015 with an impressive series of decorated wood turned hollow forms.

Thomas is full of ambition and has used his success in the Young Craftsman of the Year competition to open doors in the world of engineering. He left Weald Sixth Form College in 2014 and is halfway through his engine build and test technician apprenticeship at Ricardo Engineering in Shoreham – a global engineering, strategic and environmental consultancy which employs more than 2,000 engineers, scientists and consultants around the world.

Thomas’ talents have already been spotted when he and a group of colleagues were given the CEO award for outstanding work in the emissions facility. “I have completed my level 3 BTEC diploma in mechanical engineering, and I am going on to do my HNC for the next two years,” says Thomas. “After that I plan on finishing my HND and my aim is to complete a degree and become a fully qualified test engineer or calibration engineer at Ricardo.”

Thomas returned to the South of England Show in June again this year, not with another entry to this year’s competition, but instead he volunteered to work at the show as a steward in the Young Craftsman marquee.

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“Winning this competition gave me such a boost of confidence to take the next step in my career, I can’t thank the society enough for the opportunity,” he says. “Everyone knows the South of England Show, but not so many know about the charity work that the society does throughout the year and I’m very keen to help promote the ‘behind the scenes’ work of competitions like the Young Craftsman of the Year. They really do help to raise the profile of so many talented young people in the rural crafts and skills sector and it certainly inspired me to raise my game.”

This competition is at the heart of the South of England Show and demonstrates skills, diversity and technical expertise across five categories: wood, metal (including jewellery), textiles, ceramics and design and technology. The quality is consistently high in this competition and this year was no exception. Yet more stunning woodwork skills were shown by 15-year-old Toby Smith and metalwork by 17-year-old Daniel Talbot, both from Sackville School in East Grinstead, who took first and second place respectively, with 17-year-old Laura Horsfield from Burgess Hill School for Girls taking home bronze. “I wish all of this year’s lucky winners and runners up every success for the future,” says Thomas. “I hope they gain as much as I have done from doing well in this competition, as it has been one of the best opportunities and experiences I have had.”

Thomas has enjoyed other competition success during his career including joint first place in the Triton Young Woodworkers awards scheme and two firsts and a second place in the Apothecaries Hall for the Worshipful Company of Turners competition in London. He attends the West Sussex Woodturners and Southdowns Woodturners clubs and has worked his way up from the beginners category through intermediate and is currently in the advanced section.

“Thomas is a hugely talented and delightful young man,” says Carole Hayward, vice chairman of the society. “We were thrilled that he offered to come back to the show this year to steward, which I believe amounted to about 10 days of his time before, during and after the show. Thomas is one of hundreds of loyal volunteers who continue to help the society host many events throughout the year and without them we just simply wouldn’t be able to manage to continue our support for the next generation.”

In July the society hosted more than 2,500 children aged 10 and 11 from over 50 schools across Sussex and Surrey at the annual Connect with the Countryside event where they came to discover more about where their food comes from and learn about all aspects of rural life.


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