I am frequently asked about why I became an armourer, what support I received and how it all came together, I hope this helps and pushes the fine efforts of individuals and organisations that have and are helping me forwards with my work.
In 2008 I was given the opportunity to start my own business. The recession had struck home and the customer service based soft skills I possessed meant that within the Tech company that I worked I would no doubt eventually be at risk. Redundancy eventually followed late 2008.
After some consideration and chatting through with my family I decided to step away from trying to return to the work I was familiar with and instead would try and turn my hobby into my job and become an armourer. We were fortunate enough to have a very large shed that I converted into a very rudimentary workshop and I began to make armour for friends in the group.
These were naive times and it soon became evident that the manufacture of quality museum standard pieces of armour was a little out of reach of this lone armourer in his shed so I began to explore training avenues; attending local colleges for their Blacksmith weekend experiences and pay the occasional metal worker for a day or two’s experience with them. Undoubtedly this helped but was not the answer.
I was put in touch with Master Armourer David Hewitt of White Rose Armouries as he had expressed an interest in training new armourers in the field and we started to work together. However, as a new armourer, with no reputation and limited skills I was struggling to pay my way at home and away and the training started to fall into jeopardy.
Writing to the Heritage Craft Association I asked whether or not they knew of any funding routes that might be able to support my training at White Rose Armouries and they immediately put me in touch with QEST.
The application process for QEST was very simple, filling out and mailing a six page application, the emphasis at that time being principally on the heritage, craft and its benefits to me and wider society. I was fortunate enough to be invited to the second stage interviews at London before the Trustees. A little nervous, I attended the meeting and was soon put at my ease by all present and we chatted about armour, my work to date and how continued training by White Rose Armouries would assist me. Sometime later I was contacted saying that the application had been accepted and I was to be taken on as a QEST Scholar.
Initially my intent had been to train myself as an armourer, trade and build a reputation all by myself. Whilst, there are no doubt, people able to do this, I have become a proponent of the more traditional apprentice based learning at the hands of someone who has many successful years experience in excess of the student. Through the efforts and support of HCA, QEST, Master Armour David Hewitt and an understanding family I have been able train as an armourer and I would encourage anyone thinking of taking up a heritage craft to consider the sterling support of HCA and QEST as they move forwards.