Born into a traditional Norfolk rural family, blessed with trade craftsmen on both sides. A natural with my hands, I had to find a creative outlet. At the age of eleven I joined a shooting club and instantly became attracted to all the leather equipment, which not only looked good but served a purpose. There, a club member, who made some of the leather work, kindly offered to pass on his skills in saddlery style making. For the next six years I attended his lessons and developed my leather goods hobby at home. I was fortunate enough to acquire a set of old tools from a local retiring Saddler, stamped with a date of 1890 on a round knife and a plough gauge with the makers name of 'J. Buck'. It felt like destiny had been discovered! The greatest guidance came from my father, who in his own right a gifted trade craftsman, carefully inspected everything I made and criticised anything he felt could be done better. Of course, it was my challenge to pass inspection without a comment! This style of parenting led me to be self-critical and taught the importance of attention to detail.
So, it was a natural course of events that I chose the world of leather goods to be my vocation in life. As soon as I was old enough at seventeen, in 1981, I left for London to attend the world renowned Cordwainers Technical College in Hackney as it was then. Originally established in 1877 as a leather trade school in Bethnal Green. There I undertook a 2-year Diploma course in Leather Goods Production followed by a one-year course in Rural Saddlery and Harness Making.
I attained the College Diploma, all A level City and Guilds qualifications available across the leather trade, including The Worshipful Company of Loriners (London) Certificate in Lorinery. Also, various trade memberships with company awards through standard of work. However, my greatest accolade was a Bursary awarded by The Worshipful Company of Saddlers of the City of London. This was solely granted upon the results of my Rural Saddlery Course in which was passed with complete distinction. So, at Saddlers Hall, Cheapside, I attended Court with The Master and The Wardens to be presented the Bursary Certificate by The Master, who told me very sincerely that this Bursary would be my ultimate achievement and worth more to me than any other. Afterwards I enjoyed an unforgettable five course luncheon with The Master and Wardens of the Court.
So, the rest they say is history, working with leather all my life, I have been employed as a pattern cutter/sample maker, factory manager, my own leather goods business employing staff and as a sole trader. I have attended such events as Horse Trials, Game Fairs and County Shows. At the Royal, Stoneleigh, on an occasion I received a wonderful compliment, when a previous college tutor from Cordwainers fifteen odd years earlier, recognised my stand from the standard of workmanship.
Life has gone full circle with me in the workshop making selected leather goods using the finest leather and fittings available, coupled with the design and workmanship demanded by the best of English saddlery tradition. In the end there is only one satisfaction for me and that is I can create something with my hands which serves a purpose and enriches a life, enhancing with age.
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