As part of Colleges Week which takes place from 17-21 October 2022 local people have shared their stories of how their local college has helped them train for their career, get promoted, retrain in a new career, and get back into education to further their ambitions.
South West College (SWC) is proud to announce that Heritage Skills Construction Apprentice Kevin Boggs, working on the Enniskillen Workhouse restoration project, was shortlisted recently as a finalist for Apprentice of the Year at the annual Construction Employers Federation (CEF) – Construction Excellence Awards 2022, which took place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belfast on Thursday 6 October 2022.
Kevin, aged 23 from Strabane, is an apprentice undertaking an NVQ Level 3 in Heritage Skills Construction, specialising in Woodwork Occupation at the South West College, Enniskillen Technology and Skills Centre campus.
Kevin is also training as a Heritage Joiner, specialising in Pre-1919 Repair and Maintenance with Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh and JB Joinery, Magherafelt.
Over the last year, he has gained a wealth of experience, helping preserve and restore Enniskillen Workhouse, a collaborative heritage restoration project between Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and South West College.
This major capital project to create a business enterprise and heritage hub has been supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, with a grant of £2,343,000, made possible thanks to money raised by National Lottery players.
Dr Paul Mullan, Director, Northern Ireland at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said,
“The delivery of a Heritage Skills programme as part of the Enniskillen Workhouse restoration project is safeguarding skills and upskilling the next generation to care for our local heritage. We know that giving apprentices the opportunity to have a closer understanding and relationship to their heritage reaps many benefits, and is something we are proud to fund. Congratulations to Kevin for the recognition this Apprentice of the Year nomination brings and we wish him continued success in his employment preserving heritage features in the area.”
QMAC Construction, based in Dungannon, was appointed as Main Contractor, and under the guidance of their Contacts Manager Jack Bothwell, Kevin has grown both personally and professionally.
As a valued team member, Jack had nothing but praise for Kevin, stating:
“Kevin settled into the Enniskillen Workhouse project very quickly. He showed an immediate ability to work as part of a team and learn from experienced craftspeople on the project. Kevin has been mentored on the project and has worked on various joinery aspects under supervision. He has enjoyed seeing his work directly help contribute to the overall transformation of the building. I envisage a long career for Kevin.”
Having started his career as a volunteer, Kevin developed his knowledge and skills, working on a number of high-profile restoration projects at the Ulster American Folk Park and for the National Trust at Florencecourt House and Castlecoole. Currently Kevin is job sharing between two organisations, including the Ulster American Folk Park – National Museums NI (NMNI) and JB Joinery.
His employer, Jonathan Black, of JB Joinery, said Kevin was progressing brilliantly:
“Immediately I noticed his great interest in all thing’s timber, and he had a real passion for historic buildings. He always wants to increase his knowledge and skills and has settled well into both working with me and being able to complete a task by himself. I am delighted that Kevin has been shortlisted as a finalist for the Apprentice of the Year award as he has worked very hard to complete his training and has a very patient personality, which will help him greatly on his heritage journey.”
Robert Fitzpatrick, Heritage (Construction) Education and Skills Co-ordinator at South West College – Enniskillen Campus, who supported Kevin’s nomination, was also delighted. He said:
“Kevin has displayed a great passion for heritage restoration and progressed at the College from Level 1 to Level 3, completing his NVQ Diploma in Heritage Construction. Working on the Enniskillen Workhouse project and with JB joinery, he has demonstrated his competence in a wide range of heritage skills, and he will be added to the Historic Environment Division (HED) Construction Register. Kevin is extremely self-motivated and dependable; his knowledge and skills will be vital to the heritage construction industry.”
At the awards, Kevin’s passion for keeping heritage and history alive, both in terms of buildings and skillsets, shines through.
“To be involved in restoring such a unique building that is 180 years old, surrounded by experienced craftspeople, using old techniques and gaining accredited qualifications has been amazing. I have gained a wealth of knowledge and traditional building skills that can be shared in the future to the next generation to help preserve and restore buildings for future generations to enjoy. I feel privileged that this opportunity was available, and I would like to thank everyone who has supported me on my journey.
The Construction Excellence awards, which recognise the achievements of the local construction industry and help publicise the contribution that the industry makes to the economy and society in Northern Ireland, took place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belfast on 6th October 2022.