NAJ Education Awards 2018

14 March 2018

The magnificent hall, with its gold leaf moulded ceiling and enormous crystal chandelier, was positively thrumming with a low-level buzz of excitement, as the huge industry throng prepared itself to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of the NAJ’s JET students.

In his welcome speech, the NAJ’s chairman Simon Johnson thanked business owners, family, friends, tutors, industry figures… and of course the students themselves for being at what he described as his “favourite event of the year”. And while commending the hard working graduates for their achievements, he hoped that many would go on to study further with JET Business development and JET management diploma. He reminded everyone that the NAJ’s education Trust can provide scholarships and assistance towards training. “Learners are eaners” he added.

Alongside Simon on the top table of the Awards was NAJ CEO Simon Forrester, NAJ vice chairman Harriet Kelsall, head of the education committee Heather Calloway and Kate Madelin, the NAJ’s head of education. Heather took the opportunity of the occasion to say a heartfelt farewell to Kate, for whom the Awards marked her last day in her role. She thanked her for her invaluable contribution, while highlighting her many achievements.

The CEO also thanked the whole of the education team – Mandy Kelly and Anne-Marie Reeves in particular for their tireless work in preparing for the Awards over the preceding months and also praised the tutors, moderators and CAT advisors for their huge help and unstinting support of students.

And so the presentations themselves. Chris Garland of Bransom Retail Systems set the wheels in motion by presenting awards to the dozen students of 2017 who had received the Bransom Award for the best JET certificate project for their particularly outstanding work. It was then the turn of CEO Simon and chairman Simon to read out the names of the very many graduates of the Professional Jewellers’ Diploma. They came from across the country, representing proud independent and multiple retailers. As ever, an impressive total of 13 graduates were from various Beaverbrooks stores, with F Hinds, Fraser Hart,  Harrington & Hallworth and Allum & Sidaway not to far behind.


Every student in the room was beaming with pride and nervous excitement as they stepped onto the stage to collect their certificates. But every year there is always one individual in particular who can be excused for having the broadest smile – the recipient of the Greenough Trophy. This mark of recognition for skill, dedication and hard work is presented to the student who achieves the highest aggregate marks, having completed the most outstanding project in the Professional Jewellers’ Diploma.

This year it was Amanda Williams, who works for Mappin & Webb in Chester, who was able to take the coveted award home with her. Her name joins all previous recipients engraved upon the trophy that was first bestowed in 1946. “This hand-written project exudes perfection,” enthused the moderator, “and the work that’s gone into this far exceeded expectation… nothing short of exquisite.” When pushed to let us in on her secret, Amanda admitted: “what you read in my assignments is me having a conversation with you. I wanted to include my humour, enthusiasm, passion and personality into my writing. I wanted my assessor to enjoy reading it! I put blood sweat and tears into my final project and I think that may have shown.”

So that’s what makes a winner! The trophy aside (“a great honour and one of my proudest moments”), taking the JET course has had a huge beneficial effect on Amanda’s working life. “The subjects are interesting and relate to what you encounter on a day-to-day basis,” she explained. “Plus, one of my biggest hang-ups is my lack of confidence. This course has gone to great lengths to help me with that.”

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