Gifford Lea resident awarded MBE

We’re proud to announce that Brian Crossley, one of our residents at Gifford Lea, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List 2020 for services to chair caning. The honour has been given in recognition of his unparalleled craftsmanship and tireless work in ensure his skills are passed on to current and future generations.

Brian has been involved in this endangered craft for over 50 years having been taught by his mother. Initially he did chair caning in his spare time but now does it full time and is the go-to craftsman for museums and antique collectors in need of an expert to repair and recane their furniture. Projects Brian has worked on include John Ruskin’s high chair at Brantwood Museum.

He was also a founder trustee of the Heritage Crafts Association (HCA) and is a yeoman of the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers.

Brian’s previous career before chair caning became his full time job was in civil engineering. He was the director of an international civil engineering contractor and he’s provided decades of mentoring and development for others through the Institution of Civil Engineers.  From 2002 to 2013 he was chairman of their Panel for Historical Engineering Works, and was awarded the Garth Watson medal for his service to the organisation in 2001.

HCA Chair Patricia Lovett MBE said:

“While countries like Japan and Korea have National Living Treasures schemes to celebrate master craftspeople, the UK does not have an equivalent way of recognising our most highly skilled makers – and sadly we are one of only 15 of the 193 UNESCO member states yet to ratify the 2003 Convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage. We are therefore 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.”

James Cobb, Director at Inspired Villages, added:

“I’m delighted that Brian has been recognised for all he has done to preserve the endangered craft of chair caning by the Queen. I’m always fascinated to learn about the various skills and achievements of the residents in our villages – Brian’s achievement is a great reminder that we should celebrate the older people in our society more as they are a fantastic source of wisdom and great stories.”

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