060819 LC 0043 tom marriott Canvas Fabricator webAshburton canvas fabricator Tom Marriott has been recognised as the top apprentice in his trade. Photo Linda ClarkeFive years ago Tom Marriott was the after-school boy at Ashburton canvas fabricator Peter May; now he’s the country’s top qualified apprentice in the industrial textile fabrication trade.

Marriott, who turns 20 in October, was named top tier two apprentice and overall apprentice of the year at the recent national Motor Industry Training Organisation apprentice competitions.

The awards were presented at the Outdoor Fabric Products Association national conference in Napier at the weekend.

To win the title, he designed and made a workproof seat cover, which included a certified air bag seam, a dome, zip and Velcro closing.

The work was assessed by a panel of judges.

Marriott said he spent a day working on the cover, taking extra care with the one-way pattern and other tricky details.

In the process he used a computer to design and cut the fabric, then sewed it perfectly together on an industrial machine at May’s factory.

He said he made seat covers on a regular basis at Mays, but his work included a wide variety of projects from making huge 30m-long haycovers to small sunshades.

His after-school job five years ago included sweeping the floor, but it also allowed him to see the workshop in action and he left Ashburton College at the end of 2016 and took up an apprenticeship in the canvas fabrication business.

He was a natural fit with his attention to detail, love of numbers and skills passed on from his builder dad.

Owner Peter May said Tom had shown he has the ability to be a very skilled tradesman with lots of potential.

“We are thrilled that he has been recognised at the awards.”

Marriott said he enjoyed the variety of work, which saw him mostly working with PVC and vinyl.

He is responsible for the whole production process, from measurement to finished item.

He is also responsible for his own clients, which is teaching him another side of the business.

It was rewarding to construct new products, but also to give new life to old ones with a fabric make-over, he said.

Marriott’s apprenticeship has involved practical and theoretical modules and courses away, but he said a lot of his learning had been in the workshop with May, who had over 40 years’ experience in the trade.

He said May and his wife Toni had been great support.

The couple accompanied him to Napier, where he also won a $750 cash prize and a hot air plastic welder worth over $1000.

Marriott is the fourth May apprentice since 2002 to have won the national award.

By Linda Clarke - © The Ashburton Guardian - 7 August 2019