Eion Gibbs, who graduated from our professional course in June, was also our first intermediate course student.

He first came to us on our month-long course while recovering from malaria.

He’d been working as a film cameraman on two charitable projects, the Kilimanjaro Project and Trees 4 Kilimanjaro.

Both charities are highlighting the environmental damage that is being done to Africa’s largest mountain, and the surrounding farmers who are affected.

Eion enjoyed the intermediate course so much that it inspired a change of career direction, and a new life as a professional woodworker.

His stand-out piece during his year with us was a monumental piece of furniture standing five feet tall.

“The Shape Shifter Cabinet” contained twenty-two compartments, with most of them being a different size.

Magnet

It comprised three horizontal sections, which were interchangeable, with each compartment being opened by a magnet.

It was therefore a functional and quirky piece of furniture, crafted from Oak, Sycamore, Ash, spalted Beech and Elm.

Its front was decorated in a harlequin triangle pattern fashioned from Ash and Oak.  Adding to its charm, it also had secret compartments and a gilded chess set that folded into a drawer.

After graduation, most of our students take a well-earned holiday.

Not so Eion, who had already won his first commission – for an even more monumental piece.

His commission for a shepherd’s hut was for a customer in Southampton.  It was to be a surprise 50th birthday present for his client’s wife.

The humble shepherd’s hut, which stands on iron wheels, was once a common sight across much of the country.

Lambing

It allowed shepherds to keep a close eye on their flocks, particularly during lambing season.

But it’s making something of a revival, because it can be put to a whole number of uses – and doesn’t usually need planning permission.

Nowadays, shepherd’s huts are used as garden rooms, spare bedrooms, reading nooks, outdoor gyms, or home offices.

Only recently, former prime minister David Cameron commissioned one to be his writing room.

Eion Gibbs shepherd's hut Chippendale

Eion’s hut was completed with a bed and wood-burning stove.  Other shepherd’s hut designs can have a toilet or shower.

The school has a shepherd’s hut on our campus and, underlining their flexibility, it was used last summer as a bedroom for one of our students.

This year it was used as a physiotherapy treatment room, by the girlfriend of one of our professional course students.

Eion’s Douglas Fir hut had tongue-and-groove Pine interior walls, Douglas Fir floor, six windows and double doors.

Eion has set up Belladrum Woodworking and is staying on at the school in incubation space.

These spaces, Myreside Studios, allow graduates to more easily make the transition into professional woodworking.

They have full access to the school’s equipment and, if they have a problem, they can seek help from our tutors.

It’s all part of the school’s holistic approach, giving our students the best tuition and a valuable aftercare package.

We’re delighted that Eion is staying on with us, and we wish him every success.

Note: We still have two vacancies for our professional nine-month course that starts next month.