The Midcounties Co-operative Funeralcare has appointed its first ever apprentice within the ‘memorial masonry’ division and he is set to learn from one of the industry’s most talented masons.
Jonathan Beck recently began his three-year apprenticeship under the tutelage of master stonemason Chris Wilkinson, after coming through a competitive selection process.
The 19-year-old, who is from Bilston, Wolverhampton, was selected for the role after showing a natural skill in painting and engraving during his interview and said of his new role: “Some of my friends were a bit surprised by my new career choice.
“But I can honestly say that I’m loving every minute of it, especially the drawing and design, which I have always enjoyed but never thought I would make a career out of.”
“I have learnt so much already and having a chance to develop a lifelong skill is invaluable, especially considering how difficult it is for people of my age to find work at the moment. Having Chris as a mentor is fantastic and I hope I can be as successful as him in my career.”
Jonathan’s mentor, Chris Wilkinson, started as a masonry apprentice and was awarded the coveted title of ‘Young Stonemason of the Year’ in 1996 by the National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM), the definitive body for masonry standards in the United Kingdom, putting him among the top masons in the UK.
“Despite having no previous experience, Jonathan showed a rare and natural aptitude for the job which is why we took him on,” said Chris.
“Due to the nature of our work, no two jobs at the Masonry Centre are ever the same, so Jonathan will have a great opportunity to build strong foundations for his future career.”
And Shayne Taylor, head of masonry services at the firm, said they need the best craftsmen to keep up their quality of work – as the majority of memorial masonry is still produced by hand.
“Our established team of 12 colleagues working at our Walsall centre share over 180 years’ memorial masonry experience between them, and Jonathan has the opportunity to learn his craft from the wealth of knowledge that surrounds him. We are delighted to have him join our team and wish him the very best of luck,” he said.