President of the Guild of Bricklayers

A COLLEGE bricklaying lecturer is celebrating after cementing a top position — president of the Guild of Bricklayers.

But Peter Elmes, City College Plymouth's head of academy for construction, has achieved more than the presidency.

He has also been chosen to champion and lead the application for the new diploma in construction and the built environment.

His career started in 1969 when he joined Garrett's straight out of school aged 16, where he completed a four-year apprenticeship in bricklaying.

He joined the college in 1989 as a bricklaying lecturer and after a promotion became the co-ordinator of a project to build five bungalows during the recession to enable unemployed youngsters to gain National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs).

Mr Elmes said: "What a great honour and not a bad achievement for a local boy from North Prospect!

"I'd like to use my achievements over the years to encourage young people to see what they can accomplish given a bit of hard work and determination."

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Ron Simmonds Award 2016 - Congratulations Matthew Evans

We are please to share with you that our hero Matthew Evans has won the Ron Simmonds Construction Apprentice of the Year Award 2016.

Here is a write up for Plymouth Herald:

A YOUNG bricklayer has been honoured as the very first recipient of the city's Construction Apprentice of the Year award in honour of a former Plymouth Alderman, Mayor and brickie.

Matthew Evans, who trains and works with Elmes Construction, was handed the award at the Construction and Built Environment Apprentice jobs fair held at the Council house.

The event was run in parallel with the Plymouth Manufacturers Group and Building Plymouth's recruitment fair in the Plymouth Guildhall.

Handing Matthew the award was council leader Tudor Evans who said the trophy paid tribute to Ron Simmonds, a former Alderman who trained to be an apprentice bricklayer in his youth.

To an assembly of apprentices, their family, friends and workmates, Mr Evans noted how the judges have found it very difficult to choose between them.

Lizzy Berna, an apprentice with AECOM who was working towards a foundation degree in civil engineering at City College Plymouth was handed the Highly Commended award, as was Liam Willsher, a plastering apprentice with Zibest Plastering and Building Contractors.

Matthew Evans, currently studying at City College Plymouth while working with Elmes Construction, was presented the cup and title of Construction Apprentice of the Year.

Speaking afterwards, Peter Elmes, director of Elmes Construction, said Matthew joined his firm on work experience and then "we liked him so much we took him on".

He added: "Matthew's time keeping is impeccable, he's a real grafter and whilst he's been at college he won the Reece French memorial trophy for apprentice bricklayers.

"The good thing about being an apprentice is you are learning and out earning money.

"If you're aged around 14 and you're thinking you don't want to go the road of academia and you're hands on, you should think about attending the Skills Group or City College. You learn practical skills and by 16 you could go onto an apprenticeship.

"The whole ethos of our company is to support youngsters to fulfil their potential and I think it's wonderful Matt's the first winner of the Ron Simmonds cup."

Matthew said he was "shocked" at the win as the quality of the other entrants was very high.

He said: "Before I originally applied to do a bricklaying course at college I had no direction or motivation to do anything.

"My mum suggested a trade and suggested I apply to college. I really have found my groove there. I was there six months and then the opportunity with Peter came up.

"There is this stereotypical image about construction, but there's so many different routes for you to go along.

"I've never done anything more fulfilling in my life to be honest. You may be exhausted at the end of each day but you will turn up the next morning."

Edward Coley, head of skills and employability at Plymouth City Council said the apprentice fairs and award was part of an ongoing programme to showcase careers and job opportunities in the construction and built environments.

He said:" We want to raise the profile of the industry and show that the traditional stereotype is not correct.

"There's more than 100 different apprenticeships and career paths in the built environment and runs into hundreds more when you includes roles such as project management and subdivisions like supply chains. It's not just joinery and bricklaying.

"It's a fantastic industry to get into and have a varied career.

"We had such fantastic quality of entries [for the award] that the winner, Matthew, won by the narrowest of margins. There was next to nothing between all three of them and it was very inspiring reading through their applications.

"All three had great individual stories and are clearly potential masters and mistresses of their trade.

"Ron Simmonds himself was an inspiring character, a former bricklayer, union representative and a passionate advocate of apprenticeships and it was a good way to celebrate his legacy with this award."

Speaking after the event, Tudor Evans said Ron was "a perfectionist" who took "great pride in his trade and who better to name an inspirational cup after."

He said the event was the council's first attempted at getting a skills fair for apprenticeships and it showed hundreds of opportunities for youngsters.

He said: "Within the next decade it is estimated there will be a need for 10,000 construction roles in the city and my ambition is to get as many people from Plymouth as we can in those roles.

"These are skilled jobs – plumbers, surveyors, architects. All of these trades are important and all can be apprentices.

"I don't want people to say they had to leave Plymouth for work. We are creating a reservoir of opportunity, making sure that the young people have learned the skills they need.

"An apprentice can earn and learn."

Mr Evans said there was a vast amount of construction planned for the city in the coming years and it was an opportunity for local youngsters to be a major part of that.

He said: "I want young people to be able to help build the city they live in.

"Around 70 years ago, their grandfathers and grandmothers had that chance to rebuild Plymouth and what's happening now means young people are having that opportunity again."

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Apprentice Shortlisted

We are pleased to announce that one of our top apprentices Matthew Evans has been shortlisted for the Ron Simmonds construction apprentice of the year award 2016. The winner of the award will be announced on Saturday 12th March at the construction apprenticeship jobs fair. We will be there 10-4pm at the Council House in Plymouth. Good luck Matthew!!!

Apprentice Nomination - Ron Simmons Award 2016

Today we have put forward one of our top apprentices for the Ron Simmonds Construction Apprentice Award 2016.

We have the great pleasure to nominate Matthew Evans.

Matthew is undertaking a level 2 NVQ in Bricklaying at City College Plymouth and will be working toward his level 3 with us also.

Matthew joined us for work experience in February 2015 working whilst studying at City College until he started his apprenticeship with us in September 2015. He used this time wisely to get ahead with his studies gaining essential experience and evidence work for his NVQ. During the work experience Matthew demonstrated brilliant punctuality and time keeping arriving to our premise in Milehouse from Whitleigh for 7.30 am under his own steam every morning – he has set the example for the whole company.

Matthew won the Reece French Memorial Trophy for bricklaying in 2015. 

Matthew has enrolled onto the Plymouth Apprenticeship Ambassador program with Plymouth City Council to demonstrate to others the benefits of apprenticeships.

Matthew is very interested in the construction industry and built environment sector and has learnt a great deal about what is happening more locally when he attended Building Plymouth Summit 3 with the team.

Matthew has been involved in many exciting projects with us over the last year:

·      Foundation construction for a classroom for Plymouth University at Dartmoor Zoo at Sparkwell.

·      Multisided complex masonry single storey extension designed for disabled users – Lutton

·      Detached new build in Queens Road – Lipson.

·      Detached new build – Wembury road - Elburton.

·      Multiple structural alterations and installation of up to 6m steel lintels using dead shoring.

·      2 storey residential extension – Greatberry Road – Crownhill

·      Single storey extension – Beacon Park.

·      Extension to extension and roof expansion – Kingsland Gardens -Mannamead.

·      Extensions to 2 student residential properties – Northhill & Greenbank

·      Rebuilding wall damaged by tree roots – Beacon Park.

·      Concrete pouring/finishing of multiple foundations and a foundation slabs.

·      First storey extension to existing ground floor commercial property. Wispy Styler Salon.

·      Stonework, slab, hard landscaping projects.

·      Stone wall repairs - cappings.

·      Installation of cavity trays to existing gable suffering penetrating damp.

·      Underpinning of retaining walls

·      Retaining wall construction

·      Taking down a large chimney to ground level.

·      Rebuilding chimneys – roof level

·      Basement Conversion – Tanking

·      Complex below ground drainage 

You can follow Matthew on LinkedIn by linking here

To find out more about the Ron Simmonds Construction Apprentice Award 2016 and the Building Plymouth Network on Plymouth City Council's website by following the link below:


Invited to No 11. Downing Street

Peter Elmes, of Elmes construction Limited, visited Chancellor George Osborne at the Treasury to discuss the current picture for UK tradesmen in January 2015.

Peter received the invitation after becoming the 2014 South West finalist Screwfix’s annual search for Britain’s Top Tradesman.

Peter and Mr Osborne talked about what could be done to encourage further business growth across their trade. He was joined by nine of the other finalists from across the UK.

Peter said: “Last year was a busy year for me and I expect this was the case for many others.

“It was a great honour to be invited to meet with the Chancellor and to talk to him about our thoughts on what might help small businesses to remain successful in 2015 and beyond.

“I know that there have already been some initiatives put in place which have helped us over the last couple of years, but I think there is more to be done to make it easier for small businesses to remain successful.”

As well as running his own business, Peter has lectured at City College Plymouth, became section leader for Trowel Trades and was the coordinator of a project to help unemployed youths gain an NVQ.

He also has a degree from Exeter University, and was president of the Guild of Bricklayers in 2010.

Mr Osborne said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and hearing tradesmen talk positively about the last year, and look ahead to 2015 with optimism, is further evidence that our long term economic plan is working.

“This government is backing businesses of all sizes and giving them every opportunity to grow and create jobs.”

Britain’s Top Tradesman, organised by Screwfix, is a nationwide search to find and recognise the brilliant builders, helpful handymen, exceptional electricians and perfect plumbers that keep the UK’s homes and businesses in top condition. 

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