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11 new training bursaries awarded

Heritage Crafts is delighted to award 11 new bursaries for trainees from across the UK to learn heritage craft skills, supported by the City & Guilds Foundation, the Army Benevolent Fund, the Ashley Family Foundation, the Principality Building Society’s Future Generations Fund, the Arts Society, DCA Consulting and Kendrick Hobbs.

These follow previous bursaries supported by The Royal Mint and other partners, and are intended to support heritage crafts trainees who are unable to meet the cost of their training, as the UK continues to deal with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

Bursaries 2023Hannah Girvan is a Devon-based early-career furniture maker and architectural joiner who works for Woodlab, making furniture from local wood that they kiln-dry on site. Their bursary will allow them to undertake a one-to-one apprenticeship there, alongside spending up to a week per month at fine furniture school Williams & Cleal. Their goal is to develop a skillset based on eco-forestry principles. They plan to teach and speak in support of an inclusive culture in heritage crafts, helping craftspeople of the future.

Leena Patel is an Edinburgh-based early-career jewellery maker. For the last two years she has attended weekly community-based jewellery-making sessions. Her bursary will allow her to complete a one-year foundation course to continue on her jewellery-making journey. The course would provide an in-depth knowledge into the skills required to become a jewellery maker and designer. Ultimately, she hopes to start a business, and to encourage a diverse range of people with different backgrounds and cultures to feel comfortable and able to consider jewellery making or other crafts as part of their future.

Roy Evans trained as a metalsmith in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. After leaving the Army he got a job in IT but always wanted to return to his passion, and started making metal sculptures in his spare time before giving up the day job in June this year. His bursary will allow him to train with Michael Johnson at Newlyn Copperworks in Cornwall, a workshop with an international reputation in a number of coppersmithing techniques. He plans to go on to teach the craft to others.

Andy Fisher is an early-career leatherworker who served in the Army and Reserves for 22 years in the Royal Corps of Transport, Royal Logistic Corps and 21 SAS. He currently works part time as a training provider in construction skills but his passion lies in leatherworking, especially for vintage vehicle interiors. His bursary will allow him to attend three courses on leather restoration and repair, seat upholstery, and industrial sewing machine repair. As well as restoring vehicles and making leather products, he also intends to run short courses for veterans.

Gareth Roberts was introduced to the craft of bookbinding by Bound by Veterans (BBV), after serving in the British Army. BBV is a charity which supports wounded, injured and sick ex-service personnel using the restorative powers of manual bookbinding to assist rehabilitation and develop employment skills. His bursary will allow him to continue to train with BBV and at Cit Lit College, London, under experts Kate Rochester, Sue Doggett, Ina Baumeister and 2018 Heritage Crafts Trainer of the Year Kathy Abbott. He plans to pass on his craft, believing that every sector of society has the right to learn this age-old skill.

Ieuan Williamson is a Gwynedd-based slate roofer whose great, great grandfather was a ferryman bringing slate down the river Dwyryd from the Ffestiniog slate quarries. He wishes to expand his skills into timber framing in order to incorporate whole building construction into his projects and make his business more viable to support his young family. His bursary will allow him, and his apprentice Dwyryd to attend an intensive two-week residential timber framing course. In the future he would like to pass on his skills to other young people in this area through the Welsh language.

Barney Murray is a Denbighshire-based early-career drystone waller who took up the craft after deciding that he preferred being outdoors than studying at college. His bursary will allow him to undertake the extremely rigorous and notoriously challenging Drystone Walling Association’s Master Craftsman certification scheme, under the mentorship of master waller Andy Loudon. In the future he intends to take on an apprentice of his own, replicating his own training path.

Bodhi King, based in Pembrokeshire, took up blacksmithing after attending a private week-long course last year in mid Wales. After experiencing homelessness he has spent the last few years building a more financially stable life for him and his son. His bursary will allow him to undertake a number of specialised courses focusing on traditional and heritage blacksmithing. He intends to operate as an independent blacksmith, doing smaller local jobs whilst developing his skillset and portfolio to do larger heritage and architectural work.

Abby Gray, originally from rural Galloway and now based in Glasgow, participated in a trainee programme in the costume department of an independent feature film in 2021. She had no prior professional experience, but as a result realised that university wasn’t the right path for her and that she wanted to pursue a career in bespoke tailoring. Her bursary will allow her to undertake an apprenticeship with renowned tailor and dressmaker Alis Le May. In the future she would like to run her own business focusing on creating bespoke clothing for people who feel that they aren’t catered for.

Logan Beckford-China, aged 16, is based in Cornwall and passionate about supporting the critically endangered craft of Cornish hedging, having been introduced to the craft through Heritage Crafts’ Pre-apprenticeship Project earlier this year. Logan intends to undertake 40 days training under the auspices of the newly-formed Cornwall Rural Education and Skills Trust (CREST) while studying in the evenings for his GCSE in Environmental Management. He intends to work as a freelance Cornish hedger, the first of a new generation that will ensure the future of this centuries-old craft.

Cameron Wallace is a Clackmannanshire-based monumental mason in his first year of self-employment with a young family. Not content with computer-controlled sandblasting to inscribe memorials, Cameron wishes to join the small number of Scottish hand lettercutters. His bursary will allow him to learn with master lettercutter Gillian Forbes, and eventually set up his own workshop making beautiful hand-crafted memorials.

Heritage Crafts Endangered Director Daniel Carpenter said:

“Building on the five bursaries awarded earlier this year in partnership with The Royal Mint, we are immensely grateful to be working with so many wonderful partners to increase that number to sixteen in 2023. These bursaries will not only change the course of their recipients lives for the better, but will help ensure the future of so many skills that are rooted deep within the UK’s intangible cultural heritage.”


Click here to see the 22 bursaries awarded since 2021

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About Heritage Crafts

Founded in 2009, the Heritage Crafts is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) registered as the ‘Heritage Crafts Association’. Working in partnership with government and key agencies, it provides a focus for craftspeople, groups, societies and guilds, as well as individuals who care about the loss of traditional crafts skills, and works towards a healthy and sustainable framework for the future. Its aim is to support and promote heritage crafts as a fundamental part of our living heritage.


About the City & Guilds Foundation

The City & Guilds Foundation is part of the City & Guilds Group charity, and has a specific focus on high impact social investment, recognition and advocacy programmes. Each of the programmes it runs act as a catalyst to make a difference to people, organisations and society, through investing part of its surplus and resources into helping everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, get opportunities to succeed.


About the Army Benevolent Fund The Soldiers’ Charity

The Army Benevolent Fund is the Army’s national charity. It stands at the forefront of support for the Army family, last year supporting 70,000 people in 45 countries around the world. As one of the largest funders in the sector, it awards grants to individuals and families, and fund leading organisations that support soldiers, former soldiers, and their families.


About the Ashley Family Foundation

The Ashley Family Foundation (formerly The Laura Ashley Foundation) is a registered charity founded by Sir Bernard and Laura Ashley following the success of the Laura Ashley fashion and interiors business. It uses its funding to develop strong communities, social welfare and creative arts in England and Wales, with a particular emphasis on supporting rural communities.


About the Principality Building Society’s Future Generations Fund

The Principality Building Society’s Future Generations Fund is a Wales-wide fund set up in partnership with Principality Building Society with the aim of having a positive impact on society and the lives of young people in Wales.


About the Arts Society

The Arts Society is a leading arts education charity with a global network of local societies which bring people together through a shared curiosity for the arts. Its belief that the arts have the potential to enrich peoples’ lives is at the heart of everything it does.


About DCA Consulting

DCA is a Birmingham based culture, creativity and regeneration consultancy and project development company working on arts, creative industries, media, heritage, regeneration and broader economic development projects.


About Kendrick Hobbs

Kendrick Hobbs delivers relevant, sympathetic and financially sustainable catering solutions, and is uniquely placed to advise how best to plan, setup, design, organise and manage catering operations in theatres, visitor attractions, historic houses, music halls, museums and galleries.

Letter cutting

Currently viable crafts


Letter cutting


The carving of characters into the face of a piece of stone, or other materials such as wood or metal.


Status Currently viable
Historic area of significance UK
Area currently practised UK
Origin in the UK Roman



The drawing and carving of letters onto stone and wood is an exacting craft whose principles go back to the classical world. Through Eric Gill there was a revival in the early twentieth century, most of the current leading practitioners can trace their skills back through the lineage of letter carvers back to Gill.

The skills required to do the best work are hard won – the design, drawing and layout of letters take years to master and are rarely understood without the guidance of a tutor. Letter carvers see the drawing and carving of letters as a particular craft in itself, allied to but distinct from masonry and carving in general. Most letter carvers are both designers and carvers. Typefaces designed for printing are rarely satisfactory when carved into stone, so most letter carvers design their own letterforms. Some have a signature style and others rarely use the same letters twice. there has been a retreat from the Victorian trend of using many letterforms and fonts (with maybe 10 different letterforms on a single stone) in a single piece of work. The design, spacing and layout of the lettering are the most important factors in any inscription.

The range of work lettercarvers do is varied. As well as memorials, plaques and signs, their work may include architectural lettering and public or private commissions of a more sculptural nature or personal work for exhibitions. Some are proficient in stonemasonry and general carving and others have skills in related areas such as calligraphy, painted lettering, glass engraving, type design and design for print.



An initial design of the commission is produced and letters are designed and drawn by hand using a pencil and paper. Then the letters are drawn on to the material (wood or stone) and carved using a chisel and hammer. These tools have not changed since Roman times.

Although some letter-cutters design directly onto the stone, redrawing letters until they are happy with the overall layout, designs are usually planned on paper, or on a computer, before cutting is started. The controlling principle in drawing the letters is the quest for consistency of letter pattern, equality of line weight and spacing, consistency of stress, and logical line breaks. Designs are often inspired by the text to be cut. Letter-cutters are interested in the form and rhythm of not just the letters but also the spaces between them.

Letters, once marked on the stone, are cut using various sizes of chisel and a hammer or mallet. The letters may be incised or relief cut. On incised letters the cutter works from just inside the edge of the letter forming a central ‘V’ cut. As currently practised there are three distinct hammer and chisel techniques: ‘stabbing’, where the chisel is held parallel to a straight edge and hammered in towards the centre of the letter, a technique for quickly roughing out stems; ‘chopping’, where the chisel is driven in from the edge, but at an angle, so that the plane of the cuts is parallel with one face of the ‘V’-cut, but the chisel edge is angled across the face; and ‘chasing’, where the angle is lower still, when the inner corner of the chisel travels along the root of the letter, but still cutting along the face of the ‘V’. When the letter is the required depth, the cutter focuses on refining the edge. Light taps are made to chase back to the drawn edge of the letter. Using a fine chisel the letter-cutter refines the thickness of each part of the letter, taking it back to the pencil drawing.

Techniques such as sand blasting and laser cutting are increasingly used in commercially manufactured letter-cutting, even if the designs have been drawn by hand. In some cases the whole process is mechanised, with the text being assigned a font from a library and the file sent to a laser cutting and finishing machine.


Local forms

There is a distinct British style of lettering that is different from the rest of the world, but there are no regional styles in the UK.




Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Marketing/educating the consumers as to the true cost of providing the finished product – memorial, architectural or garden artwork.
  • Training by skilled tutors at an affordable level is in short supply.
  • Suitable workshop space to accommodate large stones and equipment is expensive to rent, especially in urban areas.
  • Only some carvers have the versatile skills to be able to work with multiple materials, techniques and commissions
  • Adaptability to enable carvers to diversify their sources of income


Support organisations

Craftspeople currently known

A list of craftspeople can be found on the Lettering Arts Trust website.

Businesses employing two or more makers:


Other information

The Lettering Arts Trust has apprenticeship and journeyman schemes and workshops.