A GRADUATE from the Lyme Regis Boat Building Academy has been given the seal of approval by Prime Minister David Cameron following a visit to his boatyard.

John Watson, owner of John’s Boats Works, was visited by the PM after his business has gone from strength to strength since he opened in 2011.

Mr Watson moved down to Lyme Regis in 2009 to complete the 38-week course at the renowned Boat Building Academy, gaining a City and Guilds Level Three Boat Building Maintenance and Support qualification.

Mr Watson said: “I moved down to Lyme Regis to study at the Boat Building Academy three or four years ago, and it was great. I was determined to get into boat building and Lyme was the most suitable place.

“Learning at the academy was brilliant, it was just the best experience and I got taught so much. It has been a challenge trying to get established in the commercial world, but it’s been a really great start and that is down to the Boat Building Academy.”

The visit was part of the Prime Minister’s small business campaign and Mr Watson added: “I didn’t find out it was David Cameron until he arrived, but he was very charming and was very interested in what we are doing at the boatyard.

“I was very impressed with him, that he came down to see a small business, and I think he was pleased to see new business starting up to keep traditional industries alive.”

Mr Watson still retains close ties with the academy since he left the town in late 2009, and has employed other graduates to work at his boatyard, based in west London. Mr Watson said: “I have a couple of people who work for me that have graduated from the academy in Lyme Regis, simply because I know the high standard of work they will be able to give.”

This latest official seal of approval comes on the back of another graduate, Mark Bestford, meeting HRH The Prince of Wales to discuss his work and the course at the academy.

Yvonne Green, principal at the Boat Building Academy, said: “It is quite an endorsement. These are very public endorsements, but the one we are most proud of is the employment of our graduates after the course.

“What John has done is quite unusual because he has taken an old and derelict piece of land and regenerated it, and we are all so proud of him and pleased for him that he has been visited by such a high-profile person.”