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“Anything that needs painting or decorating, that’s where we come in.”
Luke, apprentice painter
Our team of painters at York Minster are responsible for applying and maintaining those final flourishes to both the Minster and its surrounding precinct, ensuring that our magnificent buildings look great year-round.
Whether they’re involved in specialist work such as carefully painting decorative finishes like gold leaf, or renovating properties in the precinct, our apprentice painter, Luke Prenty, is involved in it all. We caught up with him to learn more about what he gets up to.
Why did you decide to apply to become an apprentice painter?
“I was doing a health and social care course at college but as I started my second year, I decided I wanted to change my career path and do something more practical. I started looking at apprenticeships and York Minster immediately stood out, so I went for it!”
What do you get up to day to day?
“What I really enjoy about the role is the diversity. I could be involved in anything from technical work such as gold leafing, to working on renovations of some of our properties, which might include painting ceilings or walls.
“I often work on exteriors of buildings as well, making sure that the Minster’s buildings all look nice and cohesive, which includes work such as painting doors, guttering and windows, as well as weatherproofing outdoor elements like fences. Anything that needs painting or decorating, that’s where we come in!”
“What’s really special is knowing that my work is going to be there for 100 years and that I’ve played a part in York Minster’s history.”
What’s your favourite project that you’ve worked on so far?
“The Grand Organ has been a brilliant project to be part of. It’s a once a century task to restore the Minster’s Grand Organ, and I have helped with various sections of its exterior finish, including the gold leafing on the pipes. I got the chance to work with experts from The Upright Gilders who came up from London for six weeks. It was amazing to be able to learn from them, as this work is particularly specialist.
“I also helped with the golf leaf under the organ, which wasn’t always the easiest of tasks, as we had to manage doing this whilst visitors were around. It took a couple of weeks to complete, but it was something to be very proud of. What’s really special is knowing that my work is going to be there for 100 years and that I’ve played a part in York Minster’s history.”
What projects are you most looking forward to in the future?
“Next up is oiling the Great West Doors. They are a stunning part of the Minster building so it will be great to play a role in giving them an uplift. They’re one of the first things that visitors to the Minster are greeted with, so it’s really important that they look as polished and welcoming as possible.”
“It’s an amazing opportunity to leave your mark on one of the most beautiful and highly regarded cathedrals in the UK.”
What’s your favourite thing about working at the Minster?
“I’ve fallen in love with the place! It’s a beautiful setting to work in, both in terms of the Minster itself and the surrounding buildings. It’s great to see the attention it gets from visitors and to know that other people get satisfaction from it as well.”
How did you find your apprenticeship?
“The combination of learning at college and learning on the job were completely in sync with each other, which I enjoyed. What I learnt at college I could put into practice during my work hours. On the other side, I could also ask my college tutors theoretical questions about the skills that I picked up on the job at York Minster. They complemented each other well.
“It’s also been great to learn from some of the very best. I work alongside Kev, a painter with 55 years’ of heritage experience, so there is never a day that goes by that I don’t pick something new up from him!”
What would your advice be to someone wanting to become an apprentice at the Minster?
“If you have the chance, dive straight into it. It’s an amazing opportunity to leave your mark on one of the most beautiful and highly regarded cathedrals in the UK. I love my time here and my confidence in my role increases day by day. I’m looking forward to what the future brings!”
Find out more about other members of the team here.
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