Hereford College of Technology specialist Rural Craft Centre hosted its national competition last weekend attracting over 140 blacksmiths and farriers from all over the UK to the Holme Lacy Campus, with some competitors travelling from as far away as Scotland and Devon to compete. Now in its eighteenth year the competition gives the ideal opportunity for young apprentice farriers to show off their developing skills and for the master farriers to showcase their professional craft.
Featuring some of the biggest names within the industry, many spectators got to see these amazing skills first-hand. Competitors took part in a series of competitions throughout the day with prizes generously donated by Arthur Cottam and Co, Jim Blurton, Mustad Hoofcare, Strömsholm and Steve Cooper. Team Leader for Rural Crafts, Charlotte Gibb commented, “It is great to see this much support and action from so many professionals in this industry and it is also a real chance for our students to get involved practically and put their skills to the test.”
The Forden Farriers team travelled with High hopes. Jim took a team of 4 apprentices to this prestigious competition and hopes were high after recent success in other competitions. At a practice session in the forge there was very little to choose between Rhodri Thomas and Ryan Sutton in the shoemaking class. The shoeing class would be even tighter with nothing to choose between James Gant and Daniel Rabin. The in house money was on Rhodri and James but it was anyone’s guess who would come out on top! This was not going to be an easy day for Jim competing twice in both classes.
Fuelled by Caffeine and adrenalin Jim started off with Rhodri in the shoemaking class closely followed by the shoeing class with James. A quick snack and it was back to the shoe making with Ryan and then the final shoemaking with Daniel.
Competition was tough but everyone gave it their all. Nerves were fraught awaiting the results but it turned out to be a very, very successful day for the team. Rhodri Thomas won the best apprentice shoe in the shoemaking and Jim won the best shoe for the Master. Needless to say as a team they won the Master and Apprentice shoemaking class with Jim and Ryan Sutton narrowly missing out on a top 3 finish.
The shoemaking was even tighter. James Gant won the best dressed foot and Daniel won the best made shoe. Jim won the best made shoe and best shod foot in this class. But who would win and would the in house money be safe!! By the narrowest of margins, 0.1 of a point, Jim and Daniel took the Capewell shield for the shoeing making class with Jim and James finishing second.
This was a great day for all involved and just rewards for everyone’s skill commitment to being the best farriers they possibly can. Jim was immensely proud of all the boys and even managed a smile or two!! “All four boys have shown immense skill and commitment not only today but every day they come to work and this is just rewards for the hours spent honing their skills”. Don’t be fooled by the glasses they are only used so he can see everything in even more detail! Jim’s skill and dedication were praised by many of the other competitors and his reputation as one of the world’s best farriers and teacher was further vindicated by this fantastic display.