THIS year’s Society of Master Saddlers’ National Saddlery Competition at Saddlers’ Hall, London proved as popular as ever with a host of prestigious awards presented in front of esteemed guests and industry professionals.
The Worshipful Company of Saddlers Prime Warden, Hugh Thomas, presented awards to the successful apprentices currently undertaking the Millennium Apprenticeship Scheme, those who had completed their training and also apprentices on the Saddlery Apprenticeship Scheme.
At the start of the evening Society of Master Saddlers’ President, Sue Norton said: “The national competition is always a fabulous occasion with so many wonderful entrants.
“I have been blown away by the brilliant entries in the President’s Choice class to make a leather toy for a boy of any age. Both the craftsmanship and number of entrants have just been amazing.”
Gratefully supported by The Worshipful Company of Saddlers, Abbey England, Osborne Tools, Cribbs Carriage Masters, Tandy Leather and Musto, the competition awards ceremony was followed by an evening reception which attracted many of the leading names from the saddlery and equestrian world.
Following a host of awards throughout the evening Frances Roche of The Royal Mews was the delighted winner of the Bruce Emtage Memorial Plate for Best in Show. The award was made for her entry in an Open Bridle Class which took the form of any Iberian, Baroque, Ceremonial or re-enactment Riding Bridle.
Earlier in the evening Frances was also awarded a Society of Master Saddlers’ Fellowship in recognition of her support not only for the association but also for her commitment to the saddlery industry as a whole.
Said Frances: “The evening has just been amazing and when I realised I was being awarded a fellowship I really was quite emotional
“It is always a great honour to take home prizes at the national competition, but this year’s event has been extra-special.
The Les Coker Millennium Trophy for the Best Entry by an Apprentice was awarded to Corrin King for her bridle entered in the Ceremonial bridle class.
While it was Frances Roche in winning form once again who took home the Alf Batchelor Memorial Trophy, for the best bridlework for her entry in the Ceremonial bridle class.
The Side Saddle Association Trophy for the best side saddle went to a delighted Coralie Chung, while The President’s Choice class, with the subject ‘any leather toy for a boy’ was awarded to Tiffany Parkinson for her Dragon Slaying Sword and Shield. Tiffany’s win was a fantastic repeat performance of 2017.
During the awards evening not only was the Society of Master Saddlers’ Fellowship awarded to Frances Roche but a new award, the Society of Master Saddlers’ Lifetime Achievement Award went to Frank Hastilow.
Said Society of Master Saddlers’ Chief Executive Hazel Morley during the presentation: “Over the course of the last 50 years, Frank has been influential in training many of Walsall’s saddlers.
“Frank ran his own successful saddlery business in Walsall for many years before moving to Surrey with his sons, Ian and Andrew, in the early 1980s.
“Frank, working with his sons has been at the forefront of the design of many saddles sold throughout the world, using his passion for the industry to concentrate on the craftsmanship, quality and innovation of the saddles he produced.
“He was awarded the Fellowship of the Society in 2005 in recognition for his involvement in the trade and support for the Society. Now that he has, quite literally spent his whole working life in the trade, we would like to award him the first Lifetime Achievement Award.”
For the results, follow the link: society_of_master_saddlers.docx