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Dedication rewarded: Holts Academy Awards


Lee Lucas and others on the inaugural awards and a change of identity.

On May 7 Holts Academy of Jewellery added another date to its history books, hosting its first ever awards ceremony devoted to its students, alumni and teaching staff.

The event took place at the London Guildhall, an ancient location once devoted to the Lord Mayor of London where he and the ruling merchant class held court. Last month however the space was dressed with a stage, kitted out with a jewellery exhibition and played host to more than 500 guests who came in their finery to celebrate the achievements of Holts Academy and its ensuing talents.

Supporters of the debut awards included Brown & Newirth, F. Hinds, Weston Beamor, Astley Clarke, Gemvision, Walsh and the Treasure show. The awards were a chance to celebrate talent both emerging and established, but also to commend the development of Academy itself, cementing its place as a leading training provider for jewellery and business skills and jewellery apprentices in the UK.

“The night was amazing and the feedback from students and the trade has been phenomenal,” says Holts Academy principle Lee Lucas. “I think people hadn’t realised just how far we have come and how much we had grown in the past few years. The event really helped to show people who we are.”

Among the winners announced on the night were jewellery designers and brands that are already making their mark in the UK such as Clarice Price Thomas and Richard Burton. But skills and personal development were also praised; Goldmark UK apprentice Sam Flanders scooped the Apprentice of the Year award while Daniel Trevor took home the award for Best Finished Piece, with his work set to be developed for sale at F. Hinds in 2014.

With Holts Academy’s first awards under its belt Lucas is now looking ahead to 2014 and has a number of ideas already in development, mostly to make the awards the main focus of the night.

“In real terms we are a very hungry organisation and so we always want to be bigger and better,” states Lucas. “This first awards ceremony was an event to do many things at; we launched a new name, hosted the awards, a graduation and an exhibition, so it was very grand.”

The new name announced for Holts Academy on the night of the awards was timed to represent a new era for the school which was established 13 years ago. Holts has changed its name to The Academy for Creative Enterprise, a title that is indicative of its future trajectory to offer more than just jewellery training to its students.

“The Academy is no longer the same company as when I joined in either scale or scope; we have grown from six student benches to more than 300 students daily, and from three staff to more than 40 in the six years [that I have been here],” says Lucas.

In this time the Academy has managed to develop more than 35 official qualifications covering a variety of areas including retail, manufacture and design. The change of business name is also a delayed reaction to Holts Academy separating from Holts Lapidary, a change that actually took place in 2007.

“The time is right to rename and to make a statement of intent that is about looking forward from who we are now to what we are going to do rather than just focus on our heritage,” Lucas explains. “The new business name is therefore the next phase of evolution for us and cements the wide recognition of us as the training provider of choice for the entire UK creative industries.

Industry words abouts the awards
Among guests at Holts Academy’s awards were jewellery designers, retailers and company directors who came out in force to celebrate the school’s talent. Here is just a handful of the positive feedback following the ceremony.

The Goldsmiths Company: “You should be very proud of what you have achieved. [The awards] was a recognition of what has been a fantastic and visionary approach to the development of the Academy to date and the potential for its future.”

Astley Clarke: “We were thrilled to have been asked [to help] and you guys have done so much for us. We are all delighted to get involved where we can. Super impressed with what you have all built at Holts.”

Domino: “A great night, I think you can call it a resounding success.”

Holts Graduate: “Just wanted to say what a brilliant evening. It went really well, everyone had a good time and the industry support was fantastic. Really inspiring for future employers of apprentices and students alike.”

Brown & Newirth: “The event itself was in a wonderful location, the food and drink choice was first rate and the company was to be enjoyed. You guys pulled off something in such a short space of time that I didn’t think possible so well done to you and your team.”

Elizabeth Gage: “We thoroughly enjoyed this new event in the jewellery calendar and applaud all the hard work of your Academy and the students. The work on display was a great credit to you and your students.”

City & Guilds: “Congratulations for not just the event, but the huge amount of achievement by your staff and learners that the evening was celebrating. The students’ work on display was just stunning, and I loved the seeing clips of the classes in progress.”

This feature was taken from the June issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the issue in full online, click here.


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