Welwyn Garden City upholsterer ‘excited and honoured’ by MBE award

PUBLISHED: 09:35 31 December 2019 | UPDATED: 09:35 31 December 2019

Wendy Shorter-Blake and her husband Steve Blake. Picture: Supplied

Wendy Shorter-Blake and her husband Steve Blake. Picture: Supplied

A Welwyn Garden City woman has been awarded an MBE in The Queen’s New Year’s Honours list 2019 for her services to upholstery.

Wendy Shorter-Blake demonstrating at the Ideal Home show. Picture: Heritage Crafts AssociationWendy Shorter-Blake demonstrating at the Ideal Home show. Picture: Heritage Crafts Association

Wendy Shorter-Blake, 63, has been recognised for being a highly skilled craftswoman who has done a great deal to ensure that her skills are passed on to the next generation.

Over the last 13 years she has set up a multi-award winning training centre, with more than 1,000 students benefiting from her tutelage.

Wendy told the Welwyn Hatfield Times about the surprise of being awarded an MBE.

"I was very excited, I felt very honoured to have received it," she said.

"At the time I had no idea who had nominated me."

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For the past twenty years she has been involved in training upholsterers and soft furnishers at her training centre - Wendy Shorter Interiors - in Colney Heath.

She said: "I am director of training for the Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers (AMUSF) and am due to be Master of the Worshipful Company of Upholders (archaic word for upholsterers) in April, subject to election - I will be only their third Lady Master in over 650 years.

"Prior to my upholstery career, I worked in the film industry for 20 years as PA to the film director, Stanley Kubrick, and then as a freelance production coordinator.

"I returned to my love of upholstery and sewing after having my daughter, and since gaining my professional qualifications I have worked on private commissions and taught advanced upholstery at London Metropolitan University and West Herts College."

Wendy was nominated by the Heritage Crafts Association (HCA), who she has worked with for years.

HCA Chair Patricia Lovett MBE said: "We are delighted that these talented individuals, who give so much of themselves to ensure that their crafts continue, have been recognised through the honours system, putting traditional craftspeople up there with other great luminaries of public life."

Wendy plans to keep working hard, improving apprenticeships in the industry and running her own training centre.

She added: "I'm making the most of this Christmas break as I've got to hit the road running on Monday - it's keeping me out of mischief."

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