Australian student wins top honour at school graduation

A retired tax inspector from Australia has won Student of the Year from Scotland’s only furniture design school, and is taking a little piece of Australia back home with him.

Nigel Goodwin, from Murrumbateman near Canberra, who recently-retired from a career in the Australian tax office, has spent the last year at the renowned Chippendale International School of Furniture.

He was presented with his prize by Iain Gray MSP, who is also sponsoring an exhibition of student works at the Scottish parliament later this month.

The Chippendale school in East Lothian takes students from around the world for its immersive furniture design courses.  This year, students came from the UK, USA, Germany, Austria, Poland, India, Singapore, South Korea and Australia.

As part of his course, he created a parquetry side table and clothes valet, both incorporating red gum that came from flooring from an old squash court near the school, and which had been stored there for some seven years.

Examining it more closely, the red gum pieces were clearly marked “Made in Australia” – and which gave Nigel the idea to make something from his home country and then bring it home with him.

“I’ve always had an interest in the practicalities of woodworking but have never had a chance to pursue that interest,” said Nigel, who is now planning to open a B&B and workshop to teach others what he has learned in Scotland.

“I am thrilled to have won this honour, particularly since it is so unexpected.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my year at the school,” he said.

Anselm Fraser, principal of the furniture school, said that “Nigel was shown enormous talent and attention to detail.  He has created furniture that is beautiful to look at, utterly practical but which also shows enormous design skills.”

Caption: Iain Gray MSP, with Nigel Goodwin and Anselm Fraser.

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