Nominated by King and Drury Construction Ltd
One of the Sussex Heritage Trust’s charitable objectives is to support traditional skills and crafts particularly in training young people through our Bursary scheme. In December 2020, the Sussex Heritage Trust announced our partnership with The Heritage Crafts Association whose aims are to highlight endangered heritage crafts skills and save them from extinction. The HCA had published the Red List of Endangered Crafts, a leading piece of research to rank UK’s traditional crafts by the likelihood that they would survive into the next generation. A particular area of concern was the number of building conservation crafts that appeared on this list, which was why we in the Sussex Heritage Trust formed our close partnership with the HCA. The continuation of these much-needed skills has never been more needed here in Sussex.
In the last few years, the Sussex Heritage Trust have bestowed this Award on some leading architects and craftspeople. Duncan Berry is no different in that they have achieved a number of Sussex Heritage Trust Awards over the years, however it is the passing on of their skill and their sheer determination to see their craft continue on for generations is the reason they are this year’s Sussex Heritage Trust Person of the Year.
Duncan has been building with flint for over 30 years. In 1997 he established Berry Middleton, which he sold to his partner in 1997 to go and live and work in New Zealand. However, it was Sussex’s gain when Duncan returned in 2015 to set up Berry Stonework, specialising in flint and stone brick work and building restoration.
Whilst his own business has gone from strength to strength, it is Duncan’s passion to pass on his skill to future generations which saw him launch a new business, Kingley Vale Lime and Flint, during the Covid pandemic. The business had two aims: to supply high quality lime, local flint and stone and also to run courses aimed at homeowners, surveyors, architects and tradesmen.
Recently Duncan worked with King and Drury in Chichester to train their team in lime and flint, going that extra mile to educate them on the history of the craft. Paul Heath of King and Drury said: “With this trade in decline, he is so passionate about passing on his skills and knowledge”.
It is this passing on of skill and knowledge which has seen Duncan successfully bring on several apprentices. One such apprentice, Callum Jackson, has worked with Duncan since college becoming a fine tradesman, producing some outstanding work. And, in 2020, Callum himself achieved a Sussex Heritage Trust Award for his flintwork.
In 2021, Duncan received a grant from the Endangered Crafts Fund, run by Heritage Crafts and the Sussex Heritage Trust to support new apprentices in the craft of flintwork and flint knapping.
Callum now has a permanent job with Duncan and is also responsible for training and courses. He said: “I am so grateful for the opportunity he has given me, and I have gained and achieved so much since I started my apprenticeship! I am truly grateful that Duncan took me under his wing and trained me to be what I am today.”