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Building careers in heritage skills in Sussex 

21 March 2024

Two former Chichester College students are leading the way in heritage skills development. 

Callum Jackson and Sam Davidson both studied construction at the college, before being given the opportunity to take part in heritage skills training – thanks to support from the Sussex Heritage Trust and their employer, Berry Stonework.

They were awarded bursary grants by Sussex Heritage Trust, which enabled them to enrol on specialist stonework courses while working for Berry Stonework, a leading local company in stone brickwork and building restoration.

Experts in traditional heritage skills are increasingly sought in the UK – but there is an shortage of those with the necessary knowledge and experience, creating a skills vacuum which is in desperate need of filling locally.

That’s why the Sussex Heritage Trust is offering students at Chichester College Group – as well as young people and adults across the county – the opportunity to apply for grants to study short courses on building conservation techniques. It is part of the charity’s aim to increase and enhance educational opportunities in Sussex.

The opportunity has been life-changing for Callum and Sam, who are now carving out solid careers in a stonework industry where there will always be work.

Callum, 24, said: “It all started through the college for me. I did level 1 and 2 brickwork, and then Duncan Berry [from Berry Stonework] contacted the college with this opportunity. I thought it was something different that I could do – so took it up.

“There’s always work coming in, as there’s a lot of demand but you need the right people to do it.

“It’s detailed work. If you don’t have the knowledge or experience, it can go very wrong. It’s different to ‘normal’ bricklaying – you are working with different materials which need specialist preparation. There’s a lot to think about to get it right.

“With the bursary and these courses, you get to learn from top quality craftsmen. For us to have the opportunity to learn this at such as young age is a really good experience. And the Sussex Heritage Trust are friendly people with a lot to offer. They accept anyone and what you walk away with is amazing. You can get a job for life with the skills they teach you.

“I’d recommend anyone taking the opportunity. If someone’s offering you a bursary to build on your skills – you’d be silly not to take it. You’ll walk away with more opportunities than you’d think.”

Sam, 19, was also introduced to the opportunity by his lecturer at Chichester College and is now being trained by Callum.

He added: “I was doing my level 1 course at the college, and my tutor realised I was into the technical and finer details, so he put me in contact with Duncan and it went from there really.

“It’s a lot different to brickwork – the tools are similar, but you’re using different materials and a different approach. The way we look at a flint wall is that it’s like a jigsaw puzzle – you’ve got to try to match the pieces to make it stable and ensure it looks right.

“We work a lot on graded and listed buildings, which use the same materials like flint, so that means work will always keep coming in.

“I’d 100% recommend this. There’s a lot of people who go into construction who just want to work on new build sites or think that’s all there is – but there are a lot more opportunities, if you want.”

The Sussex Heritage Trust has been working with Chichester College Group to offer bursaries for young people (18-25) who hope to work in the construction or building conservation industry with short courses which will build on the skills they have learnt at college.

Paul Rolfe, Associate Principal (Employers and Stakeholders) for Chichester College Group, said: “It is vital that we are supporting local industries, identifying and filling skills gaps in our region.

“It’s one of the reasons we’re proud to work with Sussex Heritage Trust to promote these opportunities to our students, giving them the change to progress into these specialist trade professions.”

Helen Reeve, CEO, Sussex Heritage Trust said: “Ensuring the preservation of heritage crafts and skills is an important part of Sussex Heritage Trust’s work.

“It is wonderful to have the opportunity to work with Chichester College to encourage more young people into these important building conservation crafts through our Bursary Scheme.

“Thank you to the College and our funders: Ian Askew Charitable Trust, The Hatley Estates, The Ian Foulerton Trust, Clarke Roofing, The Radcliffe Trust, St James’s Place Charitable Foundation and Beard Charitable Foundation, for supporting the future of heritage for Sussex.”

To find out more about the Sussex Heritage Trust bursaries, visit or to see further details and more of the work that Sam and Callum do visit Berry Stonework Ltd

To start your studies at Chichester College, visit