How long have you worked at Tricker’s?
I left school aged 15 and began working for a shoe company in the Closing Room putting in eyelets. I then went to Church’s for nine months and finally to Tricker’s.
I started out on the main factory floor working as a ‘bottom filler’ for two years. This is not as crude as it sounds. A layer of cork and latex is applied to the bottom of the shoe or boot which offers support and durability.
I then moved around the factory working in the Lasting, Making, Finishing and Shoe Rooms.
Afterwards, I was offered a three-year apprenticeship in the bespoke department.
I had a great teacher called Len. He was known throughout Northampton as a master shoemaker. After he retired, I looked after the bespoke and repairs.
Because of the skills I gained in every factory department, I was always on hand to offer cover when needed.
I then became a Cover Supervisor where I developed staff management skills. Soon after, I was able to build a proper bespoke and repair team.
Tell me a little about yourself?
Northampton born and bred. I followed in my father’s footsteps into the shoe industry.
My great hobby is model making for my son. I also make model sets of Batman and the comic world which I sell around the world.
What makes you proud about working for England’s oldest shoemaker?
When I undertook my bespoke apprenticeship, I really began to understand what we are making at Tricker’s. The sense of achievement, craftsmanship, the fact we are an English family owned business and where our footwear is made entirely in our Northampton shoe factory. We are also one of the only full in-house bespoke makers.
One of my great passions, is to see the joy we can give to someone who cannot buy footwear off the shelf due to a deformity, injury or something else. For them to be able to wear what looks like a proper pair of shoes to the outside world, gives them back some self-esteem and happiness.
Which is your favourite Tricker’s shoe or boot and why?
This is really difficult for me to answer since I have twenty-six pairs. However, I am very much in love with suede as this finish offers great comfort and the shoes are usually easier to wear in.
What has been your biggest highlight working at Tricker's?
After 23 years, it’s difficult to pinpoint one event, so here are a couple:
- Obviously, the recent visit by The Prince of Wales. I also have the incredible honour of visiting him at Clarence House to measure him for a new pair of shoes.
- I have visited Japan and Italy many times with Tricker’s demonstrating bespoke shoemaking.
- The film Kinky Boots was filmed in our Northampton factory and I was an extra in five scenes. Great fun.
- In 2008, I was given an award for Behind the Scenes for Skills Heroes. 140 people were nominated across the country in all areas of handmade clothing and accessories. I was the only shoe person and fourteen people were nominated awards.
- Meeting various celebrities who have visited our factory for TV documentaries such as Ade Edmondson and Robbie Coltrane.
- Hosting the recent BBC TV show Made in Britain where the team spent a whole episode in our factory learning shoe making across the centuries.