Straw hat maker Lucy Barlow has won the 2023 President’s Award for Endangered Crafts. The prestigious award, and £3,000 bursary, was initiated by Heritage Crafts’ President the former Prince of Wales.
Heritage Crafts was set up 13 years ago as a national charity to support and safeguard heritage crafts skills, and has become well known for its Red List of Endangered Crafts, the first research of its kind to rank traditional crafts in the UK by the likelihood they would survive the next generation.
The President’s Award trophy was presented to Lucy at a special presentation at St George’s College, Windsor Castle, on Wednesday 15 November 2023.
Lucy apprenticed with Phillip Somerville of Bond Street in the late 1970s and then went on to Paris to assist master milliner Jean Barthet on the collections of Yves St Laurent, Chanel, Balenciaga, Karl Lagerfeld and Claude Montana. Recently completing an MA in Menswear Millinery at the Royal College of Art, Lucy’s dissertation ‘The Last Straw?’ looks into strategies for the regeneration of the stitch straw industry in the UK. She is a 2019 QEST Garfield Weston Foundation Scholar.
Lucy plans to use the prize to equip her garden workshop so that she can teach machine sewing of straw plait into hats. She would repair historical machines and also invest in new machines that are easier to acquire spare parts for. She plans to focus on finding ways to bring the skill to future generations and involve more diverse communities.
Judges for the Award included Heritage Crafts Co-Chair Jay Blades MBE, Kate Hobhouse (Chair of Fortnum and Mason), Patricia Lovett MBE, Simon Sadinsky (Executive Director of The King’s Foundation), and Johanna Welsh (2022 President’s Award winner).
Winner Lucy Barlow said:
“Its now up to me to take the baton of support and recognition for this wonderful craft and use this to power for the good and for future generations.”
Heritage Crafts Executive Director Daniel Carpenter said:
“Many people know the former Prince of Wales as a long-time supporter and champion of traditional craft skills, and his passion is all too evident through initiatives such as the Heritage Crafts President’s Award. Lucy is an immensely deserving winner and we know that in her hands the prize will provide a massive boost to the outlook of this endangered craft.”
The two other finalists for the 2023 President’s Award were Michael Johnson and David French. Michael, the UK’s leading artisan coppersmith operating from Newlyn Copperworks in Cornwall, was awarded a finalist prize of £1,000 donated by former Heritage Crafts Chair Patricia Lovett MBE. David, a fifth generation withy crab and lobster pot maker from Devon, and one of only about ten remaining in the UK, was awarded a finalist prize of £1,000 donated by President’s Award judge and Chair of Fortnum & Mason Kate Hobhouse.