Letters from Lucy: December 2019

Lucy speaking to primary school students

Letters from Lucy: December 2019

Since January 2019, our scholarship winner Lucy Cushley has kept inundated with all her saddlery career.  In her final blog of 2019, Lucy discusses her recent encounter with her local primary school and why it’s so important to love what we do.

Hi all,

Hope you all survived Xmas! Being a female of a certain age, I find myself being more and more frequently asked “So when shall we be expecting some little saddlers?”. I’m sure you can imagine my facial expression. The obvious aside, it makes me laugh that people think I’m brainwashing children into becoming saddlers! When I do speak to kiddos about being a saddler, I think I only spend 60% of the time telling them about my job and the industries surrounding it. Thankfully being from a rural community, talking about leather and how it’s made is never a cringe. In fact, many of the children there are the ones telling me about taking cattle to the abattoir.

Mostly however, I talk about things like practice, hard work and finding a job that you really love. I think perhaps that’s why so many people are unhappy, being stuck in jobs that they don’t like. In craft careers there are so many extra obstacles to overcome, you’ve gotta be obsessed by it. That’s why I talk about not giving up when things are hard, especially when it comes to doing their homework. Tell kids that being good at maths lets you make amazing things and that English skills help you write about what you’ve made and why it’s special.

I get asked are the girls going to be saddlers and I’m 99% sure it’s going to be a no. When they look at me doing things they watch with interest and ask lots of questions, but I don’t see the spark in their eyes. Yet I always let them help, laying down patterns, picking buckles out and taking pictures. They always love getting stuck in and I suppose its teaching them valuable skills and giving them a bit of a work ethic, but I don’t expect miracles.

I see a lot of adults with the spark though, they come over to the bench and are enthralled with the work. They ask unending questions, they want to touch and feel and really learn about what I’m doing and more importantly why I do it that way. I remember my first year at BETA being told by those doing the saddlery competition there, to not waste their time being saddlers. Why is it some people are so quick to warn people off their own trade? I’d NEVER tell anyone not to be a saddler. Instead I would tell them to go work with a saddler, read about it, spend time in the trade, do the maths to see if its financially viable for their situation and the like. Of course, I’ll give them a heads up on obstacles they might come up against, but it’s going to be up to them whether they’re going to succeed.

I like to quote that: “Children are not vessels to be filled, they are fires to be kindled” but by the same token, don’t dump a bucket of water over the sparks you see in others. Everyone deserves to go out and live their dream, whatever it may be.”

Till next time


2 years ago
Andrew Dyson
2 years ago at 15:02
Wow, where do i start. There is so much wisdom in these words. I know speaking from personal experience that often a visit from someone like this when we are at school especially the early years can often be a memory that can stay with us in to adulthood and become one of the many memories that build up and shape the person we become. I have so much respect for you for trying to catch these little ones early on , it can only contribute to making the world a better place. Craftwork seems to calm the soul, so lets hope that you ignite that spark in some of the youngsters you visit. Peace.
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