The Great British Sewing Bee’s Patrick Grant brought a buzz to Ladybridge High School when it hosted an “Endangered Crafts Day”.

The event, by the Comino Foundation and Heritage Crafts, aimed to inspire and inform young people about traditional crafts ­— which are in danger of being lost but are key in today's world.

Blackburn-based clothes maker Patrick, who has clothed film stars and royalty, and has his own Savile Row business, stressed the importance of ethical and sustainable clothing to an audience comprised of pupils from Ladybridge High School, Bury’s Derby High School and St Gabriel’s RC High School, Abraham Moss Community School, and Rochdale’s Falinge Park High School.

Patrick is the founder of Community Clothing and judge on BBC’s The Great British Sewing Bee.

Community Clothing was established with a simple goal; to sell great quality affordable clothing and by doing so sustain and create great jobs in the UK’s textile making regions. Today they work with 28 partner factories, including spinners, weavers, knitters, dyers, finishers, embroiderers, textile printers and garment makers, including in Lancashire,

He instilled a particular sense of pride in the Ladybridge pupils by revealing that trainers were invented in Bolton 140 years ago, and that the trainers he was wearing were made in Bolton by Norman Walsh, at the town’s one surviving trainer factory.


He said: “Bolton made the coolest running shoes in the world. Shoes that were won by Bolton Wanderers when they won the FA Cup, shoes that were worn by Roger Bannister when he ran the first sub-four-minute mile, and shoes that were worn by the British Olympic team in the 1980s.”

Further food for thought was given when he revealed that there is already enough clothing on the planet to clothe the human race for the next 150 years.

Patrick said: “We need to stop buying bad stuff that’s made from bad materials and start making and buying good stuff that’s made locally, and made out of good materials.

“If we lose traditional crafts then we will never get them back, so I hope today inspires you and encourages you to consider a career where you make things.

“A job doesn’t have to be one where you’re at a computer, you could be using your hands to make something amazing.

“It’s only by having opportunities to try a bunch of things that you’re going to find the thing that really lights up your imagination.”

Patrick praised Ladybridge headteacher Paddy Russell for having the vision to provide a curriculum that allows pupils to experience creativity.

Mr Russell said: “We were delighted to host the Endangered Crafts Day. The young people from Ladybridge, and a number of other schools, learned all sorts of new skills on the day and it helped to build an appreciation of the benefits of creating and crafting our own products, rather than relying on buying items that are made by others.

“Patrick’s speech was inspirational and full of knowledge about the impact of the fashion industry on the planet. Importantly, the learners took away ideas on how they can change things for the better.”

Like so many of those participating in the workshops, Ladybridge pupil Ayaan Waqar thoroughly enjoyed himself.

“I’ve never done any willow weaving before, and it’s made me think about a career in the ‘making’ industry.

“A lot of these crafts are in danger of being lost so it’s very important that we learn them because it will help the traditional skills to continue,” he said.

Ayaan enjoys making clay models at home, creating characters from his imagination.

“I give them family members as gifts. It’s so satisfying to actually physically make something, rather than just playing video games all the time.”

Throughout the day, pupils were able to try their hands at hat making with Holly Johnson, pewter casting with Ella McIntosh, neon sign making with Richard Wheater and willow-weaving with Joe Gregory.

“It was an amazing day and we are grateful to these skilled people for sharing their crafts with the children,” said deputy headteacher, Ann Zammit.

Ann Zammit Caitlyn Sands

“At Ladybridge we try to give our learners a truly broad and balanced experience. Whatever the subject, whatever is being taught, we want to share a real-world expression of that with our learners, and Endangered Crafts is a good example of our approach.

“We will be getting together with those learners who took part in the event, and listen to how they want to take what they’ve learned today forward and how they want to explore the experience further.”

Already, there are plans for the school’s farm manager – a willow weaver himself – to share his skills with pupils.