The young slate mason helping to keep the traditional Cumbrian industry alive

  • Video report by Fiona Marley Patterson.

A young slate mason is helping to keep a traditional Cumbrian industry alive with the assistance of a prestigious national apprenticeship scheme. 

The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust was set up to honour the Queen Mother and it's now supporting Liam Cartmel-Walker at Coniston Stonecraft.

It means Liam's apprenticeship for the next two years is secure. It'll help the business financially, but there will also be some money for Liam's travel expenses to get here.

He said: "I'm the only 18-year-old in this area that does this trade. I'm fourth generation in this sort of industry, so I'm carrying on from my dad and my grandad.

"The people I work with make me feel confident. I couldn't ask for better teachers to be honest!"

Liam Cartmel-Walker, apprentice slate mason. Credit: ITV News

Brendan Donnelly, from Coniston Stonecraft, says he is proud of Liam's achievement. He told ITV Border: "There's only about 20 recipients in the whole of the country. The last Cumbrian recipient was a long time ago, and we just think it's a real boost of confidence for not just Liam, but also the slate industry as well.

"This is a trade that is declining over the years. We are one of the last three slate manufacturers in this area and Liam is the future. We've got make plans for the new generation."

Liam's never been to London but he will exhibit his stone work there - taking a Cumbrian industry to high society.

Brendan said: "It's not designed to be in an exhibition, it's designed to be used. But, why not? What's to stop us from putting it out there and saying 'this is a work of art' because some of the stuff that Liam, George and Andy produce - they are works of art."

Liam in the workshop at Coniston Stonecraft. Credit: ITV News

Liam is looking forward to taking his art to the capital. He said: "It will be an experience. I can't wait to see the expressions on their faces really. It's only round here that you see this sort of slate."

He hopes to work at Coniston Stonework his whole career, and one day design the crafts he makes. He said: "I want to take it to the next level, where people never took it before with the stuff you can make out of it. I just want to push the boundaries with it really."

Perhaps one day his coaster will support a Royal cup, as they're supporting him now.