The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers has named the first four beneficiaries of its new Royal Charter Scholarship Fund: James Batstone and Charles Richards, graduates of the Royal College of Art; and Oliver Goldie and Abigail Butler of The Cass (London Metropolitan University).
The fund was set up in October to celebrate the livery company's Royal Charter status, awarded in 2013. Thanks to support from industry donors, more than £20,000 was raised at last year's annual Royal Charter commemorative dinner, enabling the company to commit to supporting four scholarships a year. The aim is to prepare promising graduates to become future leaders, craftspeople and innovators within the furnishing industry.
Charles Vernon, chairman of the livery company's education and training committee, says: "A scholarship can make a huge difference, and in many cases enables a student who might otherwise not have the chance to continue their education."
For Oliver Goldie, currently studying for his MA Furniture degree at the Cass Faculty of Art, the bursary will enable him to buy the tools and materials needed to complete pieces to a professional standard and quality. Says Oliver: "I'm extremely grateful for this opportunity. I feel I will hugely benefit from this bursary both in my learning through this course and later in my career, especially with the chance of being part of a mentoring scheme."
Abigail Butler, also studying for her MA at The Cass, says: "I am very grateful to the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers and to London Metropolitan University for all their support and will be, far into the future. I hope that one day I will be in the position to support younger designers and furniture makers in the way that I have been supported."
Charles Richards, studying for his MA at the RCA, comments: "The financial help will be of huge assistance to my time here and used solely for material costs. It will also be a great opportunity to take up the offer for mentorship."
Scholarship candidates are identified through the livery company's extensive links with universities and academies across the UK.
In addition to a scholarship bursary, Furniture Makers' Royal Charter scholars will enjoy: membership of the Young Furniture Makers and the inherent networking opportunities; automatic long listing for the annual Young Furniture Makers' exhibition; priority booking on the Young Professional Industry Experience scheme; and dedicated career support and mentoring from a matched professional within the industry.
The company's education champions - donors and sponsors which made the new scholarship initiative possible - are Blue Crush Communications, B&Q, NIC EIC, Furniture Village, iKBBI, KI Furnishing Knowledge, Community Playthings, Ercol, Panaz and Parker Knoll.