15-year-old Toby Smith from Sackville School in East Grinstead in East Sussex was crowned the winner of this year’s Young Craftsman of the Year competition for his superb walnut and maple bedside cabinet at the South of England Show on Saturday 11 June.

Toby wowed the judging panel this year with his beautiful workmanship and the passion he put into sourcing his wood and creating a stunning piece of work commissioned by his client – which in this case was his mother!

Visitors to the South of England Show which took place on 9, 10 & 11 June were able to see Toby’s winning piece along with all the other entries in the Young Craftsman of the Year marquee.

17-year-old Daniel Talbot, also from Sackville School, scooped silver for his decorative katana sword with hand forged blade, wooden scabbard and display case, coming a very close second.

17-year-old Laura Horsfield from Burgess Hill School for Girls took bronze for a denim dress made for the catwalk based on shape and structure.

Toby Smith said, “I’m over the moon really – I worked for over 50 hours on this project but I was amazed to be the winner. I hope to go on and have a career in furniture design and manufacture.”

Toby plans to put his £1000 prize money towards buying a car when he is old enough to drive.

This competition is at the heart of the South of England Show and demonstrates skills, diversity and technical expertise across five categories:  wood, metal including jewellery, textiles, ceramics and design and technology.   The judging panel considered the concept, design, use of materials, artistic merit, function, proportion, technical skill and finish, and of course ultimately the winning pieces had to have that ‘wow’ factor.

Said Sarah Peay, Committee Chairman, “Once again, the standard for this unique competition has been incredibly high this year and we are delighted to have received 191 entries from youngsters aged 14-21 years who live or study in Berkshire, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Kent and Surrey.

“We are celebrating our 30th Young Craftsman of the Year competition, which promotes two of the South of England Agricultural Society’s objectives, namely to promote crafts and skills and to encourage young people to extend themselves and produce work of the highest standard.”

The awards are sponsored by C Brewer & Sons, MDS Electrician, Mid Sussex District Council, Mid Sussex Timber, South East Business Systems, The French Joinery Company, The Guild of Master Crafstmen, The Ironmongers Company, The Worshipful Company of Joiners and Ceilers, Mrs C A Green, Mrs E C Hayward, Mrs M Stroude and Mr and Mrs J Slaughter.

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