Rikki Lane, aged 19, from Wool in Dorset, an apprentice of only two years, has completed a heritage building to make any master craftsman proud. As part of his studies for his Level 3 Diploma NVQ in carpentry at Weymouth College, Rikki has worked at Plankbridge Hutmakers in Piddlehinton, and his latest project has been to build Plankbridge’s first ever 16’ shepherd’s hut.

He said, “I started working at Plankbridge in September 2011 to coincide with my course and, as many apprentices find out, the step up to Level 3 of the Diploma is very challenging – so to be able to get a job really helped with the transition.  I have been paid a proper wage from the beginning and it has been an invaluable experience to be able to practise what is taught in the classroom in a workshop. The main reason is that I’ve been surrounded by highly skilled and very dedicated people who are willing to impart the kind of information that cannot be learnt from a page in a text book. Working at Plankbridge has boosted my confidence, and increased my knowledge as a craftsman.  I’ve gained more carpentry experience and have had the opportunity to learn how to spray huts and carry out some intricate lead work.”

Richard Lee co-owner of Plankbridge, adds: “We feel very strongly about keeping the traditional craft of shepherd’s hut making alive, and we are committed to passing on skills to young people. Rikki is one of a new generation of local craftsmen and he is showing great aptitude for working with wood in all its forms.  I was impressed by his initiative and enthusiasm from the outset, our shepherd’s huts are not coming off a conveyor belt – they are unique and he grasped this very early on.

“Rikki is capable of completing all the tasks involved in building and decorating a hut, with a little guidance from senior members of the team. We’ll be keeping him on after his apprenticeship, adding to our highly skilled and qualified team. I’m sure it won’t be too long before he can impart some knowledge to someone his junior. He is already setting about his next 12’ Riverkeeper’s hut for another Dorset customer,” said Richard Lee.

For more information about Plankbridge Hutmakers visit www.plankbridge.com

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