A prestigious new category recognising the considerable skill and knowledge held by saddlers throughout Walsall has gained its first recipient.
The Society of Master Saddlers’ ‘Master Saddle Maker’ title has been awarded to longstanding industry expert, Sean Jeffs of Vale Brothers.
Sean has worked for the Walsall-based business for 11 years after they bought the Harry Dabbs saddlery brand where he had been employed for many years previously.
Now factory manager at Vale Brothers, Sean has spent much of his working life as a bench saddler and is also an SMS Qualified Saddle Fitter.
As a specialist in the design and manufacture of saddles. Sean was keen to gain the Master Saddle Maker qualification which involves a five hour trade test for the candidate to demonstrate the necessary saddle making skills and gain the SMS Flocking qualification.
In gaining the Master Saddle Maker title, Sean was required to make one saddle and to part complete a second saddle at an approved test centre.
“I am delighted to be the first Walsall-based saddle to gain the standard and would encourage all other bench saddlers to work towards taking the test,” said Sean.
“It really does demonstrate our commitment to the industry, the skills and knowledge that we have gained over many years and is something we should be very proud to achieve.
“As part of the Society of Master Saddlers’ efforts to work more closely with the skilled craftspeople of Walsall everyone with the necessary skills and experience should be looking to achieve the Master Saddle Maker title.”
Adds Society of Master Saddlers’ Chief Executive, Hazel Morley: “After his many years’ experience in the saddlery world and especially as a very knowledgeable bench saddler focused on making saddles, Sean is a very worthy first recipient of the status.
“The initial idea behind the category was to reward and recognise those saddlers who focus mainly on saddles rather than across all saddlery including bridles and other leather work.
“We would be delighted to hear from saddlers wanting to take the test and who feel they fulfil the criteria.”