QEST

The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust was established in 1990 by the Royal Warrant Holders to try and address the rapid decline in traditional crafts in the UK. Responding to further concern for a shortage of employment opportunities available for young people within the sector QEST set up an apprenticeship scheme in 2014. The Pilgrim Trust offered a three year grant in 2017 towards the cost of the apprenticeship scheme in conservation and preservation.

QEST aims to develop apprenticeship opportunities to support talented, established and emerging craftspeople to pursue a meaningful and long term career in the sector.

The current apprentice funded through the Pilgrim Trust grant is employed by Mourne Textiles, a specialist traditional weaver based in Northern Ireland.  Established in 1949 by Gerd Hay-Edie, an influential textile designer whose fabrics were championed by design luminaries such as Robin Day, Hille, Conran and Liberty. Today, Mourne Textiles – now run by Hay-Edie’s grandson – works to ensure that Hay-Edie’s classic mid-century designs remain in production, while staying entirely faithful to the unique spirit of her originals.

So far the apprentice has been learning how to use a traditional hand loom to weave the range of wool and linen fabrics. Plans for the future include increasing his technical knowledge of yarn composition and getting involved in the renovation and operation of several shuttle looms that the company are preparing to install in the mill, as part of their planned expansion. Long term, there are opportunities for the apprentice to assist with managing the workshop and all aspects of the production.

Images provided by kind permisssion of  Mourne Textiles