Pioneering Todmorden building school celebrates first graduation ceremony

Eight students graduated at The School of Natural Building. They are pictured with Eileen Sutherland (third left, back row) and Barbara Jones (second right, back row).
Eight students graduated at The School of Natural Building. They are pictured with Eileen Sutherland (third left, back row) and Barbara Jones (second right, back row).

The School of Natural Building (SNaB) has celebrated its first graduation ceremony in Todmorden.

The school, which is the first of its kind in the UK, was established in August 2014 by social entrepreneurs Barbara Jones and Eileen Sutherland.

Eight students were presented with certificates and a commemorative T-shirt.

Barbara, principal of the school and one of the foremost natural builders in Europe, said: “SNaB is a genuinely unique organisation.

“We train people to become natural builders, gaining high level skills in straw bale building, natural plastering, and cement-free foundations.

“Our students receive training in the theory behind natural building, through our inspirational series of one day courses.

“They also undergo rigorous practical training at natural building sites across the UK.”

Among the students was Salli Gosling, who completed a degree in Russian and trained as a modern language teacher. Currently Salli and her husband run a business adapting vehicles for people with disabilities.

Salli and her family will be building their own circular passive strawbale home next year, designed by Straw Works.

She said: “I’ve done all the straw bale building courses and associated voluntary work and have worked on site as a trainee straw bale builder.

“I’ve also done car tyre training and have worked on all aspects of the training programme at Hap Cottage i.e. car tyres, straw, clay and lime.

“It’s great to see the whole job all the way through. I love the clay plastering, especially when I don’t wear gloves and can actually feel the plaster.”