The Sustainable Skills Initiative is a project to combine the efforts of all the amazing hand skills, experience and talents of heritage businesses. It is not about stealing anyone else’s thunder, it is about amplifying our voice, not just worshiping the ashes, but sustaining the fire.
All of our industries face many challenges over the coming years from a general lack of interest to dealing with climate change. Now more than ever we need to explain why we are a part of a new generation’s future. Why we are ideally placed to be front and centre of a vibrant, local, repair based economy. Giving all those who want it, the opportunity, access and inspiration to use their hands. Skills really do shape futures.
To this end we are putting together a broad spectrum of SSN ‘Ambassadors’ willing to spread the word and help us to push the agenda. They vary from the trade, media, clubs and education, from country to city and from a diverse range of backgrounds and experience.
This page will be updated as more people get involved but here is the start, the ambassadors who are already a part of the project.
Here is our current line up of skill ambassadors
Drew Pritchard started his career as an apprentice and trained as a stained glass restorer, he started trading independently as an antique dealer in 1993. Since then he has gone on to build up a worldwide business.
Salvage Hunters, the TV show he has starred in for 9 years is not only still going strong but has also spawned a number of spin-offs including ‘The Restorers’ which showcases the talents of the tradespeople within the industry and ‘Classic Cars’ agin showcasing the talent of the people and companies involved.
Drew has supported the AoHE from the outset of the project, he has also do an amazing job showcasing his own industry over lockdown with his Instagram series. He accepted the invitation to become a part of the SSN without hesitation and we look forward to working with him.
I first meet Hannah Thomas at the NEC classic show where she was a part of the amazing National Street Rod Association UK club stand. I have always loved the Hot Rod scene. It brings together art, fashion, engineering, music and an amazingly vibrant scene
Hannah Thomas is a freelance automotive PR Specialist and Digital Marketer based in East Sussex. After initially qualifying as a chef, Hannah moved into a successful career in event management, travelling the world and organising venues for corporate and extraordinary events.
Established in 2018, HT Automotive PR was borne out of a passion for custom, retro and modified cars. As Hannah was so passionately involved with the UK hotrod and drag racing scene through the National Street Rod Association, the progression to helping niche automotive business increase their brand awareness was a natural fit.
HT Automotive PR specialises in PR and media outreach, and engagement through digital marketing campaigns and social media channels for the niche automotive sector including those specialising in custom cars, hotrods and drag racing, modified and retro cars, and classic vehicles.
Hannah is passionate about the custom and classic car scene and making it a way of life accessible for generations to come. She has given talks and guidance to vehicle clubs on PR and social media, joined discussion panels on encouraging the next generation of classic vehicle enthusiasts and as a side-line is a champion for women in motorsport.
Marc Allum will be familiar to many people as one of the experts on the BBC’s Antique Roadshow programme He is a freelance art and antiques journalist, writer and broadcaster based in Wiltshire. He has been a miscellaneous specialist on the BBC Antiques Roadshow since 1998 and has appeared on numerous television and radio programmes. Marc regularly writes for mainstream magazines and is an author, antiques consultant and lecturer,with interests ranging from pre-history to modern design and is a self-confessed collectaholic. He has a passion and reputation for divining the unusual; ‘a desire to connect with history through the interpretation and pursuit of objects and their origins’.
Marc is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, a musician an the custodian of a classic Citroen motorcar. He is passionate about the retention and promotion of all the skills which make the industry in which he works so vibrant
Leah Guilliard-Watts is the Operations Director of Cropredy Bridge Cars in Oxfordshire. As the worlds leading Jensen car specialist, keeping traditional skills of manufacturing alive is a critical path in the continued success of their business.
In the 21st century, it can be a challenge to not only retain, but pass these skills on to a new generation of employees.
Leah has championed and created an apprenticeship scheme to ensure that these skills and crafts continue into the future. The heritage of the Jensen brand not only requires these skills today, but they form a key part of the long term future of the marque.
Leah is also the Founder of Driven Collective. Driven Collective stands for change. Positive change.
“Driven Collective is designed to provide a support network of likeminded, driven people. Whatever their career, skillset or personality, to help each other. While we know that the needs of us all can be different, the building blocks of life are simple; to be happy, healthy and loved.
How we achieve that varies and those variations are to be embraced. We aim to be an inclusive group. .”
Akash Cheeda founded Marc Brunel Recruitment in 2016 to fill a gap in the market for clients looking to source specialists working in the heritage automotive industry. From vehicle restorers, fabricators and upholstery trimmers, to engine builders, paint technicians, private vehicle collection managers and everything in between, Akash has an acute understanding of the roles that the industry recruits for and he is at the cutting edge of seeing which skills are in demand at any given time.
A Porsche fan at heart, Akash is also a much-welcome addition to the industry: being from a British Asian background he has a passion for encouraging a younger, more diverse audience and workforce to our ageing industry.
In his formative years he served his apprenticeship with the experts at Design 911 to become a Porsche Restoration Parts Specialist, getting to know the role from the ground up. He moved on to work as a vehicle build technician with HP Porsche and still works there on Saturdays now, showing that years after starting his career his enthusiasm for getting hands on with the roles he helps clients to recruit for on a daily basis is still alive and well.
Vikkie Lee aka ‘The Carpenters Daughter’.
After a few months of decorating too many rooms at a time, she lost motivation and turned to sharing her favourite healthy family meals as a form of escapism instead.
With a house not being renovated and her food blog, Tastefully Vikkie becoming increasingly popular, her fiancé reminded her that if she put just as much energy into renovating as she did the food blog, it would have been finished
Although it wasn’t what she wanted to hear, she compromised by sharing her renovation projects on a new blog and YouTube channel, ‘The Carpenter’s Daughter’. To her surprise, the basic phone videos were proving even more popular than the the food blog. The rest is history and award winning Vikkie now has over 66k subscribers to her YouTube channels.
Hannah is the CEO of Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust. She is responsible for the preservation of the historic buildings, vessels and docks associated with the Naval Base, as well as the IBTC International Boatbuilding Training College.
The Trust owns the Memorial Flotilla of historically important boats, including MGB81 and RAF high speed launch 102.
Hannah spent ten years in the construction industry working for Sir Robert McAlpine where she launched a cross industry initiative focussing on Heritage construction skills. This continued in her role as Head of National Projects for English Heritage and she champions a united approach to solving the skills shortage.
Commended as a “Rising Star” at the Construction News Awards in 2019, Hannah is passionate about the opportunities offered for young people in construction, and for diversity in the sector.
Our ambassadors represent experience right across the heritage skills spectrum, working together our aim is to showcase the huge and important role our sector has to play in a new sustainable skills based future economy, to support , encourage and facilitate access to a new and diverse audience.
Chris Haynes, whose family name is synonymous with hand skills and quite literally started and sustained a revolution in maintenance and repair with the Haynes Owners Workshop Manuals.
Chris Haynes is an entrepreneur in real estate and motorsport, notably the GT Cup Championship (www.gtcup.co.uk). In his early career he worked his school holidays helping to build, as a concrete labourer, the Museum his Father founded and on leaving school spent a hugely rewarding year as an apprentice conservator in its workshop.
In his role as Chairman of Trustees at the Haynes International Motor Museum he is honoured to continue his Father’s legacy and passionately advocates the charitable objectives upon which the Museum is founded, to advocate educational knowledge and appreciation of motor vehicles, particularly by their preservation and restoration.In developing the museum as a charitable company the site is now not only a World class collection, award winning visitor attraction and conference destination, it has also developed its Workshops into a centre of excellence in conservation, through preservation and restoration.Chris has an absolute passion and drive to protect heritage, not just as static time capsules, but as an inspiration to future generations through education, training and engagement. “In my role as Chair of the Museum’s Trustee Board I am really excited to join the AoHE as a Sustainable Skills Ambassador and through our shared values promote the excitement and pure ethereal pleasure that working machines create within our soul.”
Master craftsperson, entrepreneur and of course, resident upholsterer on BBC 1’s ‘The Repair Shop’
Sonnaz was apprenticed to the internationally renowned boat builder Sunseeker International, based in Poole, Dorset, which covered a broad spectrum including design, Boat building, engineering support services and upholstery.
After 8 years with Sunseeker she left to establish her own company, Sonnaz Ltd which specialises in a broad range bespoke upholstery projects, interior design and in house CAD design as well as being traditional restoration specialists.
Sonnaz is passionate about encouraging skills and skills education using both the traditional and modern and we look forward to working with her to promote hand skills and the opportunities they can provide as a part of a sustainable future economy.
Craig Hughes Upholstery has been established for over 35 years. Craig started as an apprentice in Manchester and eventually started his own business in 1984 .
He is also well known for his passion for classic cars and motorbikes and takes on some unusual vehicle upholstery jobs for customers, known for his original, traditional upholstery and sympathetic repairs on old vehicle seats which he makes the upholstery in keeping with the age and style of the vehicle.
Craig is also known as a main Restorer on the Discovery Channel’s Quest TV “Salvage Hunters” and a main Presenter on “Salvage Hunters The Restorers”. He also appears as a guest Restorer on “Salvage Hunters Classic Cars” restoring Drew’s fascinating finds. He sometimes has to work miracles with some of the old antiques but he enjoys the challenges.
Ralph Hosier has worked with engineering companies such as Rolls Royce, Bentley, Ford of Europe, Jaguar Land Rover, PSA, ZF and many companies from the motorsport world. Specializing in prototype and experimental vehicles and powertrain systems.
He has also worked with film and TV industries, working behind the scenes to create vehicles and act as technical consultants on car based shows. The rear of the workshop is also used as a film set for garage based shows as well as presenting ‘Mission Ignition’ and ‘Scrapyard Supercar’
Winner of the rising Star Award winner in 2020 (HMA’s) and is the first female columnist for Practical Classics Magazine.