being given its just recognition as a time-honoured and important craft. Indeed, on the subject of honours, we were no less delighted to discover that one of Britain's most eminent practitioners of the art was recently given the highest recognition by no less than Her Majesty herself.
The woodturner in question was Evesham-based Ray Key, whose almost half a century of devotion to the craft has now led to him being awarded a British Empire Medal. The appearance of Key's name in the Queen's Birthday
Honours List roll call follows a nomination by the Heritage Crafts Association (HCA), and here at The ToolPost, we can't think of anyone involved in woodturning who is more deserving of such an accolade.
by the Evesham Observer, Key's long journey to the prestigious award began way back in 1958, when he became an apprentice pattern maker. From an early stage, woodturning had pride of place in his training, leading him
to purchase his first lathe in 1965. By 1973, he was a full-time professional woodturner - and the achievements have only kept stacking up since then.
Soon establishing a formidable reputation for his passion and
dedication to woodturning, Key was instrumental in the setting up of the first international seminar for practitioners of the craft in 1980. as he sought to promote and champion woodturning to audiences both here in the
UK and overseas.
He was also the founding Chairman of the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain (AWGB) in 1987, an achievement recognised in his being awarded honorary life membership in 1997 and becoming the
Association's President a year later. A sign of the AWGB's impact is the fact that while there were only about 300 woodturners in the UK at the time of its establishment, that number has now swelled to around 3,500.
As if all of these attainments weren't incredible enough for just one woodturning career, Key also has the distinction of being the sole non-American Honorary Life Member of the Association of American Woodturners. In
2002, the Worshipful Company of Turners granted him Freeman status.
It's tiring just to read such a long list of career achievements - and yet, Key's own enthusiasm for woodturning remains undimmed. He has said that
he has "always loved the beauty of wood. Its warmth and tactility. I like to read the wood and bring out the best in it." No one here at The ToolPost could possibly disagree with such sentiments, and we firmly
salute him for such stellar achievements in his career to date.
Much more importantly, however, we look forward to what he continues to do as a proud ambassador of woodturning and every aspect of this hugely
rewarding craft. Enjoy your medal, Ray: it could not be more deserved!