During the last month I have been in awe of the tremendous craft skills abounding in the Livery Companies and the exceptional engagement by the Liveries who keep closely in touch and promote these skills. This must be the most important work that the Livery Companies can do as many of the skills and crafts are diminishing in popularity and some need additional help to promote their work and training. The Basketmakers’ Livery invited me to speak at their dinner in Skinners’ Hall and as a result I was presented with a wonderful rush handbag and an invite to a day making baskets. All connected to their promotion of the craft skills.  I enjoyed speaking about famous baskets in history or fable such as the basket hiding Falstaff in Henry VI; the balloon basket that Phineas Fogg rode in around the world in 80 days and basket of consumer products creating the monthly Consumer Price Index! Can you think of any other famous baskets?

The Saddlers’ Livery invited me to their annual celebration of saddlery – a wonderful display of competition pieces to be judged and awarded prizes by their Perpetual Master, HRH the Princess Royal.  It was an incredible display that included leatherwork on the theme of the Mayflower 400 celebrations this year, where a leather lighthouse took my eye. The Saddlers support saddlery courses at Capel Manor,  Walsall and elsewhere.  What a hard job it must be to distinguish and reward one exhibit over another.

Finally I want to mention our own trade and the enjoyable lunch hosted by the Finishes and Interiors Sector. Held at Plaisterers’ Hall this lunch honoured and awarded the FIS Fit-Out Futures Awards, made in four categories – Apprentice of the Year, Outstanding Employee, Future Leader and the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award.  Kennya Horton won apprentice of the year working as an apprentice carpenter at  Stortford Interiors (UK)

The judges said: ‘Kennya is showing great determination to succeed in a male dominated profession.  The effort she applies to learning, coupled with her skill level and enthusiasm, is truly exceeding expectations.  It was interesting to read how, not only is she inspiring other apprentices and peers, but inspiring her mentors to enjoy delivering training and up their game.’


Our Livery links with FIS are growing and I see them as a great partner to work on training and support of the trade in the years to come.