Woodbridge carpentry student Oakey Hand lands job at Royal Opera House

Oakey Hand

Oakey Hand - Credit: Archant

When Oakey Hand applied to study carpentry at Suffolk New College, he feared he would be rejected because he had no qualifications.

But tutors took a chance – and today, three years on, the 19-year-old is preparing to take up his dream job as a set builder for the Royal Opera House.

Although Oakey didn’t have any GCSEs, his positive attitude and determination to succeed impressed lecturers and persuaded them to offer him a place.

The youngster quickly repaid the faith shown in him by excelling in his studies and securing work at one of the world’s most famous opera companies.

“It’s a dream job,” said Oakey, who is from the travelling community and lives near Woodbridge.

“When I applied to the college, I explained that I’d had some difficulties and that was why I didn’t get any GCSEs. Fortunately, the tutors were willing to give me a go.”

Last summer, Oakey found work building sets at Snape Maltings – and when the Royal Opera toured in Suffolk, he wasted no time in asking for a job. He will be based at its workshop in Purfleet, Essex, and will tour the country with the company.

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“My tutors have all been asking me for free opera tickets,” said Oakey, who is a keen actor and has previously performed at the New Wolsey in the youth theatre. “I always try my hardest to do the best I can. I never wanted a normal job.

“The plan is to eventually move on to working on film sets – and maybe eventually get back into acting.”

Richard Illman, Suffolk New College carpentry and joinery lecturer, said Oakey’s hard work had paid off. He added: “It is a credit to Oakey that he made the right impression while working at Snape Maltings on set designs to be recommended to work at the Royal Opera House and further still to get the job. We wish him all the best for the future.”