Marsh Heritage Crafts Trainee Award

This Award recognises trainees of crafts who are passionate about ensuring that traditional craft skills survive into the future, and the continuation of heritage crafts businesses and in some cases themselves.

The award winner could be on a formal apprenticeship scheme, a less formal traineeship, an institution-based course with a high degree of practical training, or even be pursuing ‘portfolio-style’ training comprising of short-courses and workshops.

Trainees may nominate themselves, or be nominated by their trainer or a craft guild or membership organisation. The person nominated can be any age.


Niam Chauhan 2021

Niam is conducting training in Violin making and repair at the Newark School of Violin Making. He began self-teaching before taking up formal training both in schools and colleges and with private companies. During his training at the Newark School, he has learnt to construct, varnish and set up violins to a professional standard. He has also learnt about the history of the practice and further context around the craft throughout his training. Niam is only 21 and has already dedicated 8 years of his life to the maintenance and studying of old instruments, exploring advanced areas which most have not had the chance to learn about at the same stage in their training. He wishes to encourage others to take interest in this rare discipline and the history and context that surrounds it, through general conversations, appearances at maker fairs and through social media. Niam’s referee, Melvin Goldsmith, describes him as having impeccable character with a great ambition and enthusiasm to progress in the craft.

Previous Winners

Richard Platt and Sam Cooper

Richard and Sam have been keen hobbyist woodworkers for a number of years. Richard studied Music at The University of Manchester, and Sam studied Mechanical Engineering at Portsmouth University and has set up a small workshop in his spare room. Richard and Sam have been training for just under two years to make traditional rush seated ladder back chairs, including harvesting and proper care of raw materials, woodturning, chair construction and rush seating. They have learned directly from someone who had avoided having an apprentice or teaching for all his life.  There was no documentation, process or structured plan for their learning but to go the extra mile to uphold the traditions of their trainer. They are becoming advocates for their craft at public events and are a credit to the extraordinary legacy of which they are part of and shown they are self-starters.  

Richard and Sam are currently in the process of opening a rush seated chair making workshop in Marchmont, the first of its kind since 1958 and hope to offer both courses and apprenticeships to help spread their craft to a wider audience. They use skills and techniques passed down through 5 generations of chair makers and now remain the only rush seat ladder back chair makers in the UK. Without them the tradition would have been lost, but they are now committed to training the next generation and bringing the craft into the modern world.  


Watch the Awards Presentation here: