Celebrating our heritage whilst focusing on the future

by Mar 21, 2024Awards, Fellowship Awards, News, News & events

The 145th Yearly Meeting of the City and Guilds of London Institute happened at Plaisterers’ Hall in the heart of the City. This beautiful Livery Hall reflects the grandeur of a bygone era in a modern setting. The current hall was opened in 1972 and backs onto the remains of the original Roman London Wall which dates back to the third century. It was a very befitting venue for our meeting as we reflected upon and celebrated our heritage (as we ourselves were established in 1878 by the City of London Corporation and 16 Livery Companies, the trade guilds) and looked to the future.  

The Yearly Meeting is a central requirement of our royal charter governance. The meeting was attended by Council Members, Trustees, City & Guilds executive and staff, Members and Fellows. As part of this meeting, not only was our annual report presented and formally received but we looked back at our heritage and history as an organisation and how we intend to build on this to continue to grow, develop and adapt to the rapidly changing skills needs in the future. Votes and decisions were taken by those present but I think the overarching theme of skills change lives was demonstrated with some impact from the stories shared by the six new Fellows as they joined the panel on stage after receiving their honour from our chair, Dame Ann Limb. 

Fellowship of the City & Guilds of London Institute is a prestigious honour, the highest that can be conferred by the Institute. It recognises individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional and personal achievements in the worlds of industry and craft. All six individuals receiving their honours at the meeting are certainly impressive advocates of skills and truly exemplify how skills can change lives. Fellows help to contribute to City & Guilds’ success by acting as ambassadors and offering their knowledge and expertise. Fellows also become voting members of the City and Guilds of London Institute so this knowledge can have impact and guidance more directly.  

Sharon Allen OBE 

Sharon is a highly respected leader in the field of social care, health and community support. She has over 30 years of experience in both the voluntary and statutory sectors and led the development body responsible for the social care workforce in England, comprising of 1.6 million workers. 

During her career she has championed the interests of low paid practitioners and supported apprenticeships, appropriate on-boarding and regulation of professionals in the sector. 

Jay Blades MBE 

Jay became the Vice President of City & Guilds last summer to act as an ambassador for skills and champion City & Guilds’ efforts to bring skills to more people and unlock the power of skills development in helping more people into secure employment and improve their lives.  

He is an award-winning TV presenter and one of the UK’s most well-known craftspeople. He is an influential and respected furniture restorer and used his passion to create opportunities for disadvantaged and vulnerable people through the acquisition and application of skills. As he said of his community work during the panel discussion – “I want to help those with intelligent hands, not minds, blossom like roses. Some people just don’t fit our education system and that is why skills are so important”.  

Leaving school with no qualifications, he went on to gain a degree in criminology and philosophy at Buckingham New University where is now their first Chancellor. As one of the most influential ambassadors for craft skills and their importance to society, Jay was appointed MBE in 2021 and is the Co-Chair of the Heritage Craft Association.  

Peter Cochrane OBE 

Peter is a university professor, futurist, entrepreneur and engineering adviser to industry and governments across the globe. He left school with no qualifications but by the age of 21 he had an O level and 2 S Levels and he credits this to the City & Guilds tutors who provided him with his formative education. He had his spark for learning ignited during this time and to date, he has four degrees, including 2 doctorates! At BT he rose from a linesman to R&D engineer and upwards to Head of Research and Chief Technical Officer. 

The support provided by his City & Guilds tutors meant that Peter didn’t end up down the mine, but instead laid the foundations for an incredibly successful career including the Queen’s Award for Innovation and Export, an OBE for contribution to international communications and the Prince Philip Medal. Aware of his good fortune he continues to inspire the next generation through teaching and training, supervising students and being a mentor to others. 

Christopher Collins  

Chris began his career as an apprentice in Brighton Parks, laying the foundations for a very successful career in horticulture. He has travelled the world gardening in places like Japan and Cameroon where he shared his home with four rescued baby chimpanzees. He did return home to achieve success becoming the Head Gardener of Westminster Abbey and found fame as the resident gardener on Blue Peter.  

He is a passionate advocate of gardening for young people and supporter of Gardening Organics and Trees for Cities. He is a winner of a silver medal at RHS Chelsea Flower Show and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal in 2007.

Stephen Grix OBE 

Stephen is another of our Fellows who started his career as an apprentice and successfully gained a number of City & Guilds qualifications in bricklaying and construction at Mid Kent College. They proved to be an excellent foundation for a career in education leading to him achieving a Masters in Educational Management and an Advanced Management Programme at Harvard Business School.  

Stephen has used his energy and commitment to skills development by turning round Sir George Monoux College and becoming the Head of post compulsory education at Ofsted. After being appointed Director of Education at Tower Hamlets, his career came full circle to return to Mid Kent College as Chief Executive. He was awarded the Prince Philip Medal in 2006 in recognition of his impressive City & Guilds journey and was appointed OBE in 2013 for his services to Further Education. 

Dick Palmer 

Dick received the Award of Honorary Fellowship not only for his significant contribution to technical education and training but also supporting City & Guilds and its work in a personal and impactful capacity. He is a Member of Council and Trustee of City & Guilds since 2007.  He has chaired the City & Guilds Foundation since 2021.  

As college principal at City of Norwich College, Dick spent his working life enabling and motivating learners through further education and skills development across the country. He earned recognition through being named Principal of the Year in 2010 and Education Reformer of the Year in 2012. He led the influential Transforming Education in Norfolk Group and has contributed to the education debate at local, regional and national levels. His experience and expertise was put to good use as a member of the Ministerial Roundtable for Further Education Learning Technology Action Group between 2013 and 2013 and also as a member of the Lord Young’s Executive Group, reviewing Enterprise Education across the UK, in 2014. 

Want to be kept up to date?

Sign up to City & Guilds Foundation email alerts and newsletter

Previous posts

Recognising excellence through the Livery Company Prizes

Earlier this month we hosted the annual City & Guilds Livery Company Prizes awards at Mansion House, home of the Lord Mayor, The Rt. Hon. Professor Michael Mainelli (Alderman). Each year City of London Livery Companies award prizes to honour outstanding learners...

Creating collective impact in the rehabilitation sector

This is a guest post by Ian Bickers, Founder of Unlocking Justice and member of our Future Skills Commission for Prisons. When the City & Guilds Foundation organised a day bringing together the people they are partnering with in the rehabilitation space, I was...

Learn about the latest findings on Neurodiversity at work in our latest report

At City & Guilds we are all connected by our common purpose: to help people develop their skills. And our City & Guilds Foundation was established back in 2019 to really amplify our purpose and particularly with a focus on supporting individuals who face...

Foundation & Friends podcast: Inspiring Inclusion with Sparta Global

Here at City & Guilds, our purpose is helping people, organisations and economies develop their skills for growth. Through our Foundation, we act as a catalyst for this work, by helping remove barriers to getting a job, celebrating best practice on the job and...

Championing apprenticeships: Insights from City & Guilds’ Young Learner Advisory Team

With nearly 150 years’ experience of successfully supporting training and skills development across the UK and globally, City & Guilds believes in listening to learners. Our new Young Learner Advisory Team (YLAT) guide us by sharing their valuable insights and...

What we learned about making applications more accessible – for refugee women and for all

Access to training and learning opportunities is one of the barriers for refugee women with experience of seeking safety to start or progress their professional lives in the UK. This includes financial barriers, as well as other barriers related to accessing...

Improving young refugees’ educational outcomes through our partnership with the Positive Youth Foundation

At the City & Guilds Foundation we’re passionate about advocating for, and supporting, people who face barriers to accessing skills development. Two years ago, we looked at supporting refugees as a beneficiary group – and have supported a number of different grass...

Bookings now open for City and Guilds of London Art School Spring and Summer Short Courses 2024!

The City and Guilds of London Art School are delighted to announce the launch of their Spring/Summer 2024 Short Courses. A perfect last-minute gift for yourself or someone you love! Next term, they will be extending their pilot programme of Evening Courses with Spring...

Celebrating the very best training and development programmes in the UK and Ireland

Last week, 53 recipients from the UK and Ireland were warmly welcomed to St James’s Palace, in London, to receive their Princess Royal Training Award from Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal.

Human-Centered Leadership: Nurturing Creativity, Connection, and Collaboration

We attended Anthropy this month. The second edition of a gathering like no other, set in the beautiful Eden Project in Cornwall to bring together leading voices to imagine a better world. It’s no surprise that leadership was at the centre of conversations as a tool...

Podcast episodes

Foundation & Friends Podcast (2024-)

​Green Skills Podcast in collaboration with Green Edge (2024-)

Hosted by Dr. Michael Cross and Fraser Harper, this podcast series explores the critical transition towards a sustainable planet and the pivotal role of green skills in shaping the economy.

Listen now

City & Guilds Foundation Podcast (2021-22)

Share This