00:00:02 My name is Andy O. I’m a Stonemason for the National Trust and I work at Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire. I’ve been a stonemason for seven years. I came as an apprentice in 2002 and I’m now a lead hand mason. I enjoy working with my hands, using old skills, using traditional techniques to produce really intricate pieces of stone. We’re fulfilling a need to keep the nation’s heritage going so other nations can see it as well.
00:00:38 When I was younger, I never even dreamed of I was going to be a stonemason. I loved architectural buildings and I spent a great deal of my youth staring up at the buildings above the skylines in towns. I wasn’t very academic at school. I was more interested in earning money to buy the things – the clothes, and the bike, and all the other things – but I did like school, I must admit. I liked the history bit, and art, and I liked making things with my hands in woodwork and metalwork.
00:01:10 There was no opportunities by my family and parents to go off and say ‘Well, what would you like to do? Would you like to go and be a stonemason? Would you like to go and be a chef? Would you like to go and be an archaeologist?’ There was never any choice. Basically, you got a job, and you went out and worked, and you brought the money home to pay the bills.
00:01:32 When I left school, I left school early, just after my sixteenth birthday, and I went off to work in retail, working on the markets, the local market stalls. I’ve got a natural gift for selling, which was quite good. I stayed in retail and pursued a retail career, really, for the first few years of my career.
00:02:00 I think the biggest turning point in my career was actually getting off my backside, and, instead of saying ‘what if, maybe’ I just said ‘Yes, I can and I will do.’ I actually saw an advertisement for retraining and doing a traditional apprenticeship in stonemasonry with the National Trust, and I realised that’s something what I should have done a long time ago. The application date had gone for the post, so I wrote them a long letter explaining why I should be considered to do this particular job and what I would give back to them, and I was given a chance to come in and explain myself, and, fortunately, I was given an opportunity to be an apprentice stonemason. It was probably the biggest turning point in my life, and the best turning point in my life, and I’m quite proud of that I made the effort to do it.
00:02:57 It’s about giving something back. I think I wish I’d have learnt that earlier on in my life, especially my teenage years, about not chasing the money but actually chasing the enjoyment of working to do something I want to do, and I wish I’d applied myself a little bit more earlier on in my life to knowing that, and I could have probably gone on to do even better things that what I do now.
00:03:31 One of the nice feelings that we have about what we do now is that our work what we produce is going to be there for other people in future generations to see. It’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I get up every morning and I want to do it. I don’t have a day where I think ‘Oh, I don’t want to go to work today.’ I actually get up out of bed and I’m out of the door before the alarm clock has really finished ringing. I don’t want to come home, actually.