More Than Just A Job
Jem Raison began thatching in 1972 by starting a four-year apprenticeship in Somerset. Two years after finishing his training he moved to the South Midlands. During this time Jem became keen to help establish a training structure in the trade. Some thatchers are self-taught and others are partly taught; in that sense the industry was completely unregulated. So Jem spent 10 years on a committee drawing up the national vocational qualification (NVQ) which was finalised around 2000.
We Love The Rain
To people like Jem and his colleagues, thatching is more a way of life than a mere job. Come rain or shine, thatchers ply their craft irrespective of whether it is winter or summer. A lot of people think thatchers just work through the summer but it's an all-year-round occupation.
The fact is that working in the rain, unless it's torrential, makes absolutely no difference. A few showers don't bother us because we tend to moisten the straw overnight, to soften it. It makes it easier to work with.
Image of Jem © BBC.