Jonathan Rayfield is Trainee Mason of the Year

Stone Federation’s 2011 Trainee Mason of the Year is 21-year-old Jonathan Rayfield, who works with A F Jones Stonemasons Ltd in Reading and says it is “a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment” that makes stonemasonry so enjoyable to him.

“I enjoy crafting the stone and completing a job by hand that will be there for all to see for maybe the next hundred years or more,” he said when he received the Trainee Mason of the Year perpetual trophy, tools to the value of £200, a cheque for £100 and a commemorative certificate before Christmas. His employer and college also receive certificates.

“I was given the news that I had won in a phone call and I was really pleased. We had a party in Reading with my workmates to celebrate my success. I owe a lot to my manager, Tim Gash, who won the award himself in 2006,” said Jonathan.

He lives in Cholsey and joined A F Jones in 2009. As well as in-house training he has been learning his trade at Moulton College in Northampton, which is renowned for its stonemasonry courses.

The award entries are judged by a panel of experts chaired by John Bysouth, who has been in the industry more than 50 years. With him on the panel are Sean Collins, Managing Director of stonemasons Boden & Ward, and John Western, who also has more than 50 years industry experience.

Entrants are nominated by their employers and judged on written documents and photographic examples of their work. Included in the entry are written citations from both their employers and college lecturers. Judges then draw up a short list before visiting individuals at their places of work.

Jonathan’s employer, Angus Jones, said: “He is a creative and passionate young man with a huge talent for stone carving and stone masonry, He has a great work ethic and his attention to detail is second to none.”

Richard Hoyle, advanced practitioner in stonemasonry at Moulton College, added: “Jonathan is an exceptional apprentice. His abilities far exceed those of other apprentices of a similar age and experience. He always wants to further his development and skills and will always strive for perfection. Jonathan is a credit to his employer and the stone industry as a whole.”

Jonathan does have one concern for the future, though, and it’s about the way machinery is now being used for some jobs. “It makes me realise how increasingly rare these skills we have as stonemasons are becoming. It has also opened my eyes to how hard stonemasons of the past must have worked to achieve such grand buildings and intricate designs.”

The Trainee Mason of the Year contest was sponsored by Hutton Stone, Natural Stone Specialist magazine, Crawshaws, Vaudin Stonemasons and Orton Trust.