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National Conservation Centre Elgin triumphs at UK Masonry Skills Challenge

5 June 2013

An apprentice from the National Conservation Centre Elgin has taken the top prize at a UK-wide masonry competition. Heats for the annual UK Masonry Skills Challenge were held in Edinburgh and London last month and John Reid, 18, a third-year apprentice from Elgin won both the Edinburgh heat and the overall competition with a score of 96 per cent.

Held by the Stone Federation Great Britain, the challenge is open to teams of three from each stonemasonry college in the UK. The 40 competitors were given a drawing, a piece of stone and materials for making moulds and templates. They were allocated eight hours to cut a piece of tracery and were each awarded a score out of 100.

Three apprentices from the National Conservation Centre Elgin - based at Elgin Cathedral - entered the competition and the team came third in the UK for the second year running. Connor Crawford, 20, a second-year apprentice from Lochgilphead scored 80 per cent while Robbie Macvie, 25, from Kirkwall scored 67 per cent in what was not only his first competition but his first attempt at tracery.

John Reid will now go forward to compete in SkillBuild - the largest multi-trade competition in the UK – which will be held in Birmingham in November. He will also receive a trophy and a cheque for £300.

Founded by Historic Scotland, the National Conservation Centre Elgin is the only dedicated training centre for stone masons in the North of Scotland and promotes traditional building skills as one of its key priorities.

David Mitchell, Director of Conservation at Historic Scotland said: “The UK Masonry Skills Challenge is an opportunity to celebrate traditional craftsmanship and to recognise young talent. I am delighted that these three skilled apprentices have been rewarded for their efforts and that John Reid will go on to represent his college at SkillBuild. The Elgin Stonemasonry Training Facility offers young, creative people the opportunity to develop and nurture their talents, and helps to keep traditional building skills alive and I am pleased that the building industry continues to recognise the breadth of talent emerging from the college.”

Notes for editors:

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

  • 2013 is the Year of Natural Scotland, inspiring our people and our visitors to celebrate Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty, landscapes and biodiversity as Scotland prepares to welcome the world in 2014 and beyond. Find out more about Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty at

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For further information

Alice Wyllie
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07920 768 096