IN one of the most hotly contested finals yet, Astrid Arnold, a Newton Abbot-based carpenter, was announced as the winner of Screwfix’s Top Tradesperson 2023.

Astrid, 48, was presented with the award - one of the industry’s most coveted titles - at Farnborough International Exhibition and Conference Centre.

The chippy walked away with the prestigious title as well as an enviable trade bundle worth £20,000, consisting of £10,000 worth of tools, £5,000 worth of technology and £5,000 towards future training.

Astrid’s impact on carpentry goes further than just her highly-technical and stunning carpentry work. She has also made much broader contributions to the industry. 

Astrid’s company, TouchWood, is a team of tradeswomen that teach a wide range of courses for up-and-coming tradespeople, as well as for DIY-ers, alongside its offering of traditional carpentry services.

The firm has also been involved in several charitable initiatives, that particularly support women in the industry, including supporting women who are survivors of domestic violence, starting an initiative called ‘Women Build!’ alongside the probation service. ‘Women Build!’ helps women who are unemployed or on probation with their mental health through carpentry and woodworking, to support them in not only learning a new skill, but helping them develop a path forward for the future.

Astrid said: ‘I am still in complete shock. After meeting the other finalists and getting to know their stories, I knew the competition would be fierce. Since winning, they have all been so supportive and I just couldn’t be prouder of this recognition for me and my hard-working team.

‘The construction industry is currently facing huge challenges from the skills gap to massive sustainability targets set by the government. With only 4% of women in manual trades, it’s clear to me that women have the potential to tackle these challenges with the right support. Winning this award provides visibility for every female tradesperson in the UK and Ireland, highlighting the contribution we are currently making and the potential we have to make in the future.

 ‘I will be using the prize bundle to grow the current training courses we have. I also would like to invest in our work in secondary schools, as I’m passionate about integrating practical skills into the national curriculum and giving young people a chance to explore the incredible opportunities a career in the trade can provide. I’m so excited to upgrade the tools and training we currently offer; my students are going to be over the moon!’