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Help us find Britain’s finest craftspeople

To recognise the importance of this relationship, we've teamed up for the second year with The Balvenie, distillers of hand-crafted whisky, to launch the Artisan Awards 2008. The Outstanding Support of Future Artisans category rewards businesses or individuals that are dedicated to passing on traditional skills and techniques to tomorrow's craftspeople. And we've also introduced a new category, Artisan Apprentice of the Year, to recognise and encourage the next generation, and highlight the importance of this new blood for the future of heritage skills in Britain. The Best Start-up Business celebrates new craft companies, while the top accolade, Country Living Magazine's The Balvenie Artisan of the Year, will be awarded to the most outstanding entrant.

If you are not a craftsperson yourself, you can still show your support. Perhaps a skilled woodcarver has restored part of your village church or hall, or maybe you've had an old armchair reupholstered by hand? Tell us about the exceptional artisans you know and we'll send them an application form.

 

Who should enter?

We're looking for people who use a traditional skill to earn their living - it can be based on weaving or textile design, glass blowing or ceramics, working with wood, leather, metal, coopering, thatching, stone masonry or any other recognised traditional craft. People like last year's winners, woodcarver Paul Jewby, who restores antique carved furniture using Victorian tools, or Aiveen Daly, who uses age-old upholstering techniques to create stunning contemporary furniture. We also want to hear from businesses or individuals that are passing on these skills and the apprentices they're teaching. Apprenticeships are the foundation of stonemason Steven Laing's business, who won last year's Artisan of the Year category. "I wanted to establish a circle of learning with trained employees teaching the next generation, and so on," Steven says.

 

The Balvenie recognises the importance of heritage skills, too - many of the techniques used at the distillery in Speyside, including those of the cooper to tend the casks and the coppersmith to take care of the stills, have not changed since the distillery first opened in 1893. "The skills of The Balvenie's craftsmen have been handed down from one generation to the next," explains David Stewart from The Balvenie. "The Grant family, who founded and still own The Balvenie, believe it's important to preserve these crafts for the future of the whisky industry and Britain's heritage, too. That's why The Balvenie is so keen to include the new Artisan Apprentice of the Year category - to reward the craftsmen who hand on their skills, and also to encourage a new generation to take up the mantle and learn them."

Click here to find out about the categories and prizes

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