Skills Event Updates

It’s been an incredibly buy few weeks for me, I’ll start with the Manchester and  Rochdale Skills Events which I was invited to by the Alliance Project. This is a scheme run by Lord Alliance, formerly of Coats Crafts and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to look into the repatriation of the textile industry. There is a huge skill shortage in this country and the Alliance Project is a scheme tht is trying o address that. So where better to stat with than at Option level school children.

We began on the Monday at the Manchester Convention Centre (formerly the GMEX) with our stand showcasingBritish  Weaving Companies such as the Very English Weaving Company and Mallalieus of Oldham who have been manufacturing in Britain since 1840 There was also Dionne Swift, textile designer and Lisa Watson, quiltmaker. I felt very honoured to be there.



The event itself was quiet, the students were slightly reserved and we really had to encourage them to get involved and I have to say that the teachers were not particularly in evidence. I spoke to one textile teacher all day which was disappointing considering we were trying to give support to their subject. Take up of Textiles as a subject has been dropping over the past few years.


We were visited though by the local Police, who loved the looms and even started to teach some of the students themselves. The lads were definitely more happy to be taught by a man.



Wednesday at Heywood Distribution Centre was a completely different event, it was loud and manic and the students were completely engaged, willing to have a go at everything!

Our group was joined by Manchester University Textile Department and Heather Jacks, the winner of the Great British Sewing Bee last year. It was such a brilliant day and the teachers couldn’t have been more enthusiastic.


It would be wonderful if textiles could have more of a role in this country’s manufacturing and let’s hope that events like this are the start, there lots of very talented people out there that we don’t hear about. I don’t know if it was a good idea that I heard about them (keeping an eye on my credit card)



I’d like to thank everyone who donated wool, fibre, buttons, beads and fabric for this event, it was brilliant to have such a varied amount of materials and they definitely inspired everyone to have a go. The little looms were wonderful, so user friendly. I’ll be using them again, so if anyone wants a go…….