THE chair of the Trowbridge-based Kennet & Avon Woodturners Club has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the King’s New Year’s Honours.

John Boyne-Aitken, who is a registered professional woodturner, is popularly known as the 'Bowler-hatted Woodturner'.

He was awarded the BEM for his outstanding services to the craft of woodturning and for his services to the wider community of West Wiltshire.

Wiltshire Times: John Boyne-Aitken, the Bowler-hatted Woodturner. Photo: Siobhan BoyleJohn Boyne-Aitken, the Bowler-hatted Woodturner. Photo: Siobhan Boyle (Image: Siobhan Boyle)

John, 66, of Rock Road, Trowbridge, is also a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Turners in the City of London.

He will receive his BEM from the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Lady Sarah Rose Troughton, later this year at County Hall.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted with it. Things like that don’t normally happen to me. I was quite taken aback by the response from everyone. It has been wonderful.”

He added: “It is nice to be recognised and for the craft as a whole to be recognised. Very often these traditional crafts are bypassed but woodturning is thriving at the moment.”

John has been chair of the Kennet & Avon Woodturning Club since 2008 apart from a break to become chair of the national organisation.

He turned his workshop into a studio during the Covid pandemic lockdowns to broadcast remote online demonstrations to the club’s members.

“We managed to keep the club going during the lockdowns and we had online get-togethers. We must be one of the only clubs in the country to swell our numbers during the Covid period.”

Early in 2023, John visited London to be honoured and gain the Freedom of the City of London at an ancient ceremony held at the London Guildhall.

He will be making such a visit again with his wife Jenny this time to attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace held specifically for recipients of New Year Honours.

 John is known both nationally and internationally as ‘The Bowler Hatted Turner’, his trademark when demonstrating his skills around the UK and abroad.

John devotes a great deal of his spare time to encouraging and helping inexperienced woodturners to improve their skills.

Many of those woodturners are members of the Kennet & Avon Woodturning Club located in Trowbridge.   

The club meets on the second Thursday of each month at St John’s Church Hall, Upper Studley.  The membership strength stands at 57 drawn from across West Wiltshire, Bath and North East Somerset