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11 new training bursaries awarded

Heritage Crafts is delighted to award 11 new bursaries for trainees from across the UK to learn heritage craft skills, supported by the City & Guilds Foundation, the Army Benevolent Fund, the Ashley Family Foundation, the Principality Building Society’s Future Generations Fund, the Arts Society, DCA Consulting and Kendrick Hobbs.

These follow previous bursaries supported by The Royal Mint and other partners, and are intended to support heritage crafts trainees who are unable to meet the cost of their training, as the UK continues to deal with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

Bursaries 2023Hannah Girvan is a Devon-based early-career furniture maker and architectural joiner who works for Woodlab, making furniture from local wood that they kiln-dry on site. Their bursary will allow them to undertake a one-to-one apprenticeship there, alongside spending up to a week per month at fine furniture school Williams & Cleal. Their goal is to develop a skillset based on eco-forestry principles. They plan to teach and speak in support of an inclusive culture in heritage crafts, helping craftspeople of the future.

Leena Patel is an Edinburgh-based early-career jewellery maker. For the last two years she has attended weekly community-based jewellery-making sessions. Her bursary will allow her to complete a one-year foundation course to continue on her jewellery-making journey. The course would provide an in-depth knowledge into the skills required to become a jewellery maker and designer. Ultimately, she hopes to start a business, and to encourage a diverse range of people with different backgrounds and cultures to feel comfortable and able to consider jewellery making or other crafts as part of their future.

Roy Evans trained as a metalsmith in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. After leaving the Army he got a job in IT but always wanted to return to his passion, and started making metal sculptures in his spare time before giving up the day job in June this year. His bursary will allow him to train with Michael Johnson at Newlyn Copperworks in Cornwall, a workshop with an international reputation in a number of coppersmithing techniques. He plans to go on to teach the craft to others.

Andy Fisher is an early-career leatherworker who served in the Army and Reserves for 22 years in the Royal Corps of Transport, Royal Logistic Corps and 21 SAS. He currently works part time as a training provider in construction skills but his passion lies in leatherworking, especially for vintage vehicle interiors. His bursary will allow him to attend three courses on leather restoration and repair, seat upholstery, and industrial sewing machine repair. As well as restoring vehicles and making leather products, he also intends to run short courses for veterans.

Gareth Roberts was introduced to the craft of bookbinding by Bound by Veterans (BBV), after serving in the British Army. BBV is a charity which supports wounded, injured and sick ex-service personnel using the restorative powers of manual bookbinding to assist rehabilitation and develop employment skills. His bursary will allow him to continue to train with BBV and at Cit Lit College, London, under experts Kate Rochester, Sue Doggett, Ina Baumeister and 2018 Heritage Crafts Trainer of the Year Kathy Abbott. He plans to pass on his craft, believing that every sector of society has the right to learn this age-old skill.

Ieuan Williamson is a Gwynedd-based slate roofer whose great, great grandfather was a ferryman bringing slate down the river Dwyryd from the Ffestiniog slate quarries. He wishes to expand his skills into timber framing in order to incorporate whole building construction into his projects and make his business more viable to support his young family. His bursary will allow him, and his apprentice Dwyryd to attend an intensive two-week residential timber framing course. In the future he would like to pass on his skills to other young people in this area through the Welsh language.

Barney Murray is a Denbighshire-based early-career drystone waller who took up the craft after deciding that he preferred being outdoors than studying at college. His bursary will allow him to undertake the extremely rigorous and notoriously challenging Drystone Walling Association’s Master Craftsman certification scheme, under the mentorship of master waller Andy Loudon. In the future he intends to take on an apprentice of his own, replicating his own training path.

Bodhi King, based in Pembrokeshire, took up blacksmithing after attending a private week-long course last year in mid Wales. After experiencing homelessness he has spent the last few years building a more financially stable life for him and his son. His bursary will allow him to undertake a number of specialised courses focusing on traditional and heritage blacksmithing. He intends to operate as an independent blacksmith, doing smaller local jobs whilst developing his skillset and portfolio to do larger heritage and architectural work.

Abby Gray, originally from rural Galloway and now based in Glasgow, participated in a trainee programme in the costume department of an independent feature film in 2021. She had no prior professional experience, but as a result realised that university wasn’t the right path for her and that she wanted to pursue a career in bespoke tailoring. Her bursary will allow her to undertake an apprenticeship with renowned tailor and dressmaker Alis Le May. In the future she would like to run her own business focusing on creating bespoke clothing for people who feel that they aren’t catered for.

Logan Beckford-China, aged 16, is based in Cornwall and passionate about supporting the critically endangered craft of Cornish hedging, having been introduced to the craft through Heritage Crafts’ Pre-apprenticeship Project earlier this year. Logan intends to undertake 40 days training under the auspices of the newly-formed Cornwall Rural Education and Skills Trust (CREST) while studying in the evenings for his GCSE in Environmental Management. He intends to work as a freelance Cornish hedger, the first of a new generation that will ensure the future of this centuries-old craft.

Cameron Wallace is a Clackmannanshire-based monumental mason in his first year of self-employment with a young family. Not content with computer-controlled sandblasting to inscribe memorials, Cameron wishes to join the small number of Scottish hand lettercutters. His bursary will allow him to learn with master lettercutter Gillian Forbes, and eventually set up his own workshop making beautiful hand-crafted memorials.

Heritage Crafts Endangered Director Daniel Carpenter said:

“Building on the five bursaries awarded earlier this year in partnership with The Royal Mint, we are immensely grateful to be working with so many wonderful partners to increase that number to sixteen in 2023. These bursaries will not only change the course of their recipients lives for the better, but will help ensure the future of so many skills that are rooted deep within the UK’s intangible cultural heritage.”


Click here to see the 22 bursaries awarded since 2021

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About Heritage Crafts

Founded in 2009, the Heritage Crafts is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) registered as the ‘Heritage Crafts Association’. Working in partnership with government and key agencies, it provides a focus for craftspeople, groups, societies and guilds, as well as individuals who care about the loss of traditional crafts skills, and works towards a healthy and sustainable framework for the future. Its aim is to support and promote heritage crafts as a fundamental part of our living heritage.


About the City & Guilds Foundation

The City & Guilds Foundation is part of the City & Guilds Group charity, and has a specific focus on high impact social investment, recognition and advocacy programmes. Each of the programmes it runs act as a catalyst to make a difference to people, organisations and society, through investing part of its surplus and resources into helping everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, get opportunities to succeed.


About the Army Benevolent Fund The Soldiers’ Charity

The Army Benevolent Fund is the Army’s national charity. It stands at the forefront of support for the Army family, last year supporting 70,000 people in 45 countries around the world. As one of the largest funders in the sector, it awards grants to individuals and families, and fund leading organisations that support soldiers, former soldiers, and their families.


About the Ashley Family Foundation

The Ashley Family Foundation (formerly The Laura Ashley Foundation) is a registered charity founded by Sir Bernard and Laura Ashley following the success of the Laura Ashley fashion and interiors business. It uses its funding to develop strong communities, social welfare and creative arts in England and Wales, with a particular emphasis on supporting rural communities.


About the Principality Building Society’s Future Generations Fund

The Principality Building Society’s Future Generations Fund is a Wales-wide fund set up in partnership with Principality Building Society with the aim of having a positive impact on society and the lives of young people in Wales.


About the Arts Society

The Arts Society is a leading arts education charity with a global network of local societies which bring people together through a shared curiosity for the arts. Its belief that the arts have the potential to enrich peoples’ lives is at the heart of everything it does.


About DCA Consulting

DCA is a Birmingham based culture, creativity and regeneration consultancy and project development company working on arts, creative industries, media, heritage, regeneration and broader economic development projects.


About Kendrick Hobbs

Kendrick Hobbs delivers relevant, sympathetic and financially sustainable catering solutions, and is uniquely placed to advise how best to plan, setup, design, organise and manage catering operations in theatres, visitor attractions, historic houses, music halls, museums and galleries.

Two new bursaries for trainees experiencing financial hardship

Heritage Crafts, DCA Consulting, Kendrick Hobbs and the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers are delighted to award two new bursaries for heritage crafts trainees experiencing financial hardship.

As the UK undergoes the economic uncertainty of inflation, rising cost of living and spiralling energy costs, these bursaries have been set up to help cover or subsidise the cost of training for someone who would otherwise be prevented from pursuing this career path.

Michael Dickson and Toben LewisMichael Dickson is an 18-year-old horology student from Hertfordshire who has been working on clocks and watches since he was six. Since the age of 14 he has been working with a local horologist to develop his skills and knowledge alongside his schooling. He will use the bursary to study a Foundation Degree in Clocks at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation in Sussex. Michael has ambitious aspirations to teach the theory and practise of repairing English Fusee pocket watches and chronometers.
Michael’s bursary is kindly sponsored by Kendrick Hobbs and the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers.

Toben Lewis is an early-career bookbinder in the remote community of Iona. He will use the bursary to study one-to-one with 2018 Heritage Crafts Trainer of the Year Kathy Abbott, developing and honing his skills in fine binding, which requires a greater level of precision, planning, and competence than most standard bindings. This is a set of skills necessary for any bookbinder in order to have a full practice and be able to accomplish what clients require.
Toben’s bursary is generously sponsored by DCA Consulting.

Heritage Crafts Director Daniel Carpenter said:

“The recent cost of living crisis has meant that, for many of those setting out on their craft careers, high-level training is further beyond their reach than ever before. Huge thanks to DCA Consulting, who for the second year have provided pioneer funding for new ways we can provide real benefit to the heritage crafts sector. Massive thanks also to Kendrick Hobbs and the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers for their vital support.”

Download a copy of the press release


DCA ConsultingAbout DCA Consulting

DCA is one of Britain’s longest established and most experienced firms of cultural consultants. Since 1995 it has worked throughout the UK on new buildings and sites, support for existing organisations in the review and development of their businesses and on strategies for places and projects. DCA works throughout the UK in many sectors, arts, historic buildings and parks, museums, galleries, creative industries, media, learning, community development and regeneration projects.

Kencrick HobbsAbout the Kendrick Hobbs

Kendrick Hobbs is a leading catering consultancy. It is focused on the specialist heritage, cultural, arts, attraction and venue sectors. It supports bespoke projects conceive, plan and deliver hospitality operations. Since 2004 it has supported over 250 projects. It aspires to create opportunities for venues, third party operators and individuals within these to develop craft skills, which in turn support the delivery of compelling food and drink propositions.

Clockmakers CompanyAbout the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers

Founded in 1631, as watch and clockmaking was beginning to flourish in London, the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers remains a champion of excellence in a global trade that is moving from strength to strength. Today, the Company’s activities range from supporting education and skills to inspiring the public through its world-class museum. It is also at the heart of industry networks, offering members access to expertise and opportunities across the world.

Bookbinding Apprenticeship Scheme to close due to COVID-19

The Queen’s Bindery Apprenticeship Scheme will close in October, three years earlier than planned. Led by the Royal Collection Trust, the scheme had aimed to train six apprentices in the specialist techniques of traditional bookbinding.

With all full time courses now closed, this was the last opportunity for young bookbinders to obtain a comprehensive full time education in the craft, instructed by highly skilled and qualified tutors. It was hoped that when qualified these apprentices would be in a position to train the next generation of bookbinders, as well as taking their skills to binderies in the UK and abroad.

Statement from Glenn Bartley, Head of the Royal Bindery:

“Due to the significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Royal Collection Trust activities, the difficult decision has been made to suspend The Queen’s Bindery Apprenticeship Scheme with effect from October 2020. This decision has been made with great reluctance and regret after considering all alternative options to try to avoid this outcome, not least because of the Royal Collection Trust’s substantial and continuous investment, but also by the many donors, stakeholders, interested institutions and individuals who have supported the scheme.”

Two apprentices will be taken on by the Royal Bindery, but the remaining four are unlikely to be able to complete their full training in this highly skilled heritage craft. It is hoped that the scheme will be resumed when COVID-19 is finally over.

The Heritage Crafts Association is concerned that the loss of this scheme will lead to a long term loss of craft skills. Hand bookbinding forms an important part of our national heritage. Founded by George III in 1770, the Royal Bindery in Windsor Castle remains at the forefront of preserving the high standards of craftsmanship that are the benchmark of the professional bookbinding trade. Formal apprenticeships, such as this, are vital to the long-term survival and sustainability of the craft. Expertise in such techniques as edge gilding and gold finishing may be lost for ever unless action is taken now to preserve these skills.

Contact: Mary Lewis, HCA Endangered Crafts Officer –


Currently viable crafts




The assembling and fixing of the loose leaves of a book between a cover, either by gluing or stitching.


Status Currently viable
Craft category Paper
Historic area of significance UK
Area currently practised UK



Early books were made from sheets of vellum, which were folded in half. The leaves were sewn together along the central fold onto bands. It was later that wooden boards were attached to the leaves, making an early book cover. The introduction of paper and moveable type were the most significant changes to the development of book transformations. The use of paper instead of parchment reduced the price. Gutenberg and the invention of the printing press contributed enormously to the transformation of the book industry in the fifteenth century. Printing increased the number of books being produced, which led to the schism of professions of the printer and the binder. This made it possible to focus aesthetically on bookbinding as an art form in its own right. Consequently, in the early-sixteenth century there was a boom in decorative bindings. Books previously had their titles written on the fore-edges instead of the spine, because of the manner of which they were stored on the shelf; with concentration on the binding, titles were later written on the spine.



Techniques in bookbinding have altered throughout the centuries. The differentiation in materials, binding technique and style of the book may help make it possible to trace the date and origin of the book. However, this may sometimes be difficult as alterations are sometimes made to help maintain the condition of the book. Books were often bespoke and handmade, varying in size and format. In the late nineteenth century, David McConnell Smyth patented a machine to bind books through sewing. Perfect binding was introduced to bookbinding in 1931: a form of binding books with glue instead of sewing. Cold glues were first used in perfect binding until a ‘hot-melt adhesive’ was used to bind books which made the binding last longer than cold glue binding. Binding systems excelled after the Second World War. Spiral binding had been in evidence since the 1920s, but it was not until later that this technique became an important part of office stationary.


Local forms



Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • Bookbinding has been dropped from many universities – it is sometimes included within printmaking, but the standard, knowledge & skills in that setting is generally poor. Bookbinding in the UK is strongly supported by professionals and amateurs. There are two organisations in the UK, The Society of Bookbinders and Designer Bookbinders. Both offer support and training in bookbinding and endeavour to maintain high standards.
  • At present the very real concern within bookbinding is the lack of training facilities in the UK. Where there were once college courses with well-trained teachers from professional backgrounds, these have now mostly closed down. Adult education suffered similar cutbacks.
  • Both The Society of Bookbinders and Designer Bookbinders offer excellent short courses in specialized areas of bookbinding. The former offer a Biennial Conference and Biennial Education and Training Seminar. Designer Bookbinders take their exhibitions to many venues and their skills are on view for all to see. There are also other courses available and these can be found on both websites. What is clearly missing is the cohesive training that is available within Europe with good courses taking students through to professional level. Those students in the UK who wish to become professionals have to pursue their training through short courses. Apprenticeships, traineeships and internships are few and far between. Students of bookbinding are keen and talented but frustrated and deeply concerned by the lack of opportunities for in depth training within the UK.
  • The electronic book has gained many fans but there is still a market for fine bindings, repair of antiquarian books and containers for ephemera and photographs.
  • New ways of binding are appearing which work along conservation lines. Artists’ books also represent a strong field within the craft but seldom employ the full use of skills that a professional bookbinder has mastered.
  • Equipment is recycled and suppliers are good. We are fortunate in that. As a craft it has a long and distinguished history and our hopes are that this may continue.


Support organisations

  • Society of Bookbinders – a UK based educational charity dedicated to traditional and contemporary bookbinding and to the preservation and conservation of the printed and written word. The Society is organised into eight UK regional and an overseas group. There are regular meetings, masterclasses, lectures and demonstrations on various topics of bookbinding or related subjects. At national and international level they organise education and training conferences and seminars and an International Bookbinding Competition. Members receive regular newsletters along with the annual flagship journal BOOKBINDER.
  • Designer Bookbinders – one of the foremost societies devoted to the craft of fine bookbinding. Founded over fifty years ago it has, by means of exhibitions and publications, helped to establish the reputation of British bookbinding worldwide. Its membership includes some of the most highly regarded makers in the fields of fine bookbinding, book arts and artists’ books, each with a passion for presenting the bound text as a unique art object.
  • Book Arts Web
  • Guild of Bookworkers – U.S.
  • Institute of Conservation
  • Wessex Guild of Bookbinders
  • City & Guilds of London Art School – book and paper conservation
  • West Dean College – book and paper conservation


Craftspeople currently known


Other information