The achievements of young fishermen were applauded recently when Whitby and District Fishing Industry Training School (WDFITS) held its 16th Annual General Meeting and Apprentice of the Year award ceremony, reports David Linkie.

Introducing the awards presentation, WDFITS director Andrew Hodgson said: “The awards provide deserved recognition of the achievements of our outstanding young talents, and are an annual event recognised in both the sea fishing and workboat industries.

“The young people excelled in their academic pursuits, and also developed practical skills and attained remarkable achievements in the domains they have a strong passion for.

“Apart from an illustrious track record of academic achievements, we also look for qualities of an active learner, such as practical abilities, commitment and a positive can-do attitude.

Andrew Locker,Scott Arrowsmith,Kieran Bush. Front David McCandless, Andrew Hodgson,Liam Riley and Kieran Gilmore pic Richard Ponter

“Regardless of their talents and interests, the selected ones have something in common – they are the role models for the next generation of seafarers, and above all, they are the UK’s young seafarers of tomorrow.”

Guests attending the awards presentation at Whitby Fishing School acknowledged the important role undertaken by the company, both in Whitby and across the UK.

A community-based initiative established in 2002 with the help of a DEFRA grant, WDFITS is a non-profit-making company, with all monies earned being used as working capital and reinvested into the school.

In the chairman’s report, David McCandless began by thanking the guests for attending, including those who had travelled considerable distances, and reiterated how important their participation and support is to the continuing success of the training school.

Winner Kieran Bush with The Gazettes Duncan Atkins presenting. pic Richard Ponter

David McCandless said: “We would also like to welcome the accommodation providers, who play such an important and crucial role in supporting the school, and to again mention the skippers along the coast, both east and west, who continue to support the training and development of our young people, and without whom we simply could not function.

“Particular thanks go to our sponsors, many of whom have supported WDFITS from day one.  The longevity of their generosity to the school has been invaluable in supporting our sustainability.”

David McCandless also thanked Whitby RNLI station for its continual excellent support of the school, and RNLI fishing safety co-ordinator Frankie Horne for his invaluable input in training the apprentices in their mandatory safety courses.

Thanks were also given to Parkol Marine Engineering for continuing to support the school’s training and educational programmes.

Reflecting on ‘another hard and challenging operational year’, David McCandless said, “The school has had to cope with continued changes in national policy surrounding the administration of apprenticeships and the delivery of vocational education to young adults. These changes have continued to impact significantly on pupil numbers passing through the school, and essential core funding.

“Fishing industry training for 16-24-year-olds will continue to be delivered through the title of ‘diploma’, although opportunities will continue to be explored with fishing companies which can support the more formal employment of their trainees. Despite the significant challenges, the school remains the only maritime training establishment in the UK currently offering the diploma in fishing training.

Winner Liam Riley and Chris Traves presenting. pic Richard Ponter

“Despite the significant challenges faced in 2017 and 2018, the school’s core staff, Andy Hodgson, Paul Braithwaite, Christine Emeney and Terry McDermott, led by chief executive Anne Hornigold, have remained absolutely committed to the cause, and worked their collective fingers to the bone throughout the year to keep the school going and progressing.

“The school’s enduring success is built on strong foundations: a dedicated and hardworking staff team, an effective board of directors, and an extremely supportive external community. Those foundations provide confidence in navigating the many challenges ahead.”

2018 award winners

The 2018 awards ceremony started with Kieran Bush from Stevenage, Hertfordshire receiving the Arries-Ide Award from Duncan Atkins of local newspaper Whitby Gazette, which sponsors the award in memory of the two young fishermen from Amble who lost their lives in a tragic accident in Whitby harbour in 2014.

Kieran Bush completed his 10-week initial theory training at Whitby, before being assigned to work out of Whitby on Redcar skipper John Middleton’s potting coble Claire Madison.

After completing his apprenticeship, Kieran Bush crewed on Scotia, before joining another scalloper, Katie Claire.

The George Traves Award for Excellence was awarded by his son Chris Traves to Liam Riley of Redcar. This award is made in memory of George Traves MBE, one of the school’s founding directors, whose life was very much rooted in the fishing industry. As a young man, George learned his trade on the deep-sea trawlers sailing from Hull, before owning and skippering his own vessels from Bridlington, East Yorkshire.

Throughout his life, George Traves recognised the importance of nurturing and developing the next generation, and such principles energised and sustained his involvement in the school. In recognition of George’s principles and spirit, the award is made to a student displaying high levels of dedication, commitment, spirit and tenacity throughout the year.

Having completed his initial training at Whitby, Liam Riley returned to Redcar to complete his apprenticeship on his dad’s potting coble, Mayflower A.

The Apprentice of the Year (Seafishing) Award, sponsored by Sunderland Marine Insurance Company, was presented to Ciaran Gilmore by Craig McBurnie.

Ciaran Gilmore arrived at Whitby from Manchester to embark on his fishing career, and completed his full apprenticeship, exactly as planned, in 12 months, while achieving an overall grade of 93% after sitting 10 exams. During his apprenticeship, Ciaran Gilmore worked on the Whitby inshore boats Emulate III and K 2, owned respectively by Howard Locker and Mike Locker. Within days of completing his fishing apprenticeship, he was offered a job on the new Whitby-built scalloper Summer Rose.

The Workboat Apprentice of the Year Award was won by Scott Arrowsmith.


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