I’m thrilled and honoured to take on the role of this year’s Chairman, and am currently still reeling with the excitement of our recent conference held at Nottingham University. It was such an amazing experience to witness the wealth of talent and enthusiasm of our members. Those of you who were fortunate to attend will now be aware that I am not much of a public speaker, so it’s good to get this opportunity to thank everyone for their kind support, and to let you all know that I shall do my best in the coming year to promote our Guild and to meet as many of you as possible.
I started out as a jewellery student in weekly Adult Education classes back in the late 80’s, when the crèche facility at my local centre offered a bit of welcome “me-time” and an escape from children and housework! Now, after twenty-odd years of studying, I am still passionate about my craft and lucky enough to have benefited from tuition with Monica Larkin and Bonnie Macintosh. I began teaching enamelling several years ago, and now work at three different centres in the South East London area. It’s been an interesting experience to be both student and teacher for many years, and I feel I owe a lot to the old Adult Education system, which now appears to be in sad decline due to funding and bureaucracy difficulties.
I was introduced to the Guild by Monica, and became a member about eight years ago. It was great to discover a source of so much talent and friendly experience, active and enthusiastic, right on my doorstep! I was immediately made to feel so welcome, and enjoyed my region’s workshops and of course the annual conferences. I became the region 7 rep in 2005, roundabout the time I studied for my City & Guilds under Bonnie, and feel the Guild has always been such a helpful, welcoming group. In 2008, I finally plucked up the courage to enter my work for selection at the Leicester conference. I was truly elated to be awarded Craftsman status, along with the Maureen Carswell award.
As regional rep I have witnessed the steady increase in membership, along with a decline in local education courses. Contemporary use of enamels has generated interest from a younger audience, who must now rely on organisations such as our Guild to supply information and training. I think it’s wonderful that we have taken this on board and encourage younger talent with such concepts as the bursary scheme and the new Judith Harris Young People’s Award. So it is with great fondness and trepidation that I take up the Chairman’s reins, and hope that I am able to offer my experience in education to the benefit of the Guild in the coming year.