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NAJ Education Awards

10 Apr 2019

The magnificent Livery Hall was, once again, the awe-inspiring setting for the National Association of Jewellers’ Presentation of Awards.


The opulent hall, with its gold leaf-moulded ceiling and crystal chandeliers, has witnessed many ceremonies, celebrations and grand dinners over the years, but few can match the Education Awards for the palpable buzz of excitement as family, friends and industry gather to acknowledge the achievements of the NAJ’s graduates.

In her opening address, NAJ chair Harriet Kelsall highlighted some of the noteworthy features of the Livery Hall, as well as the Goldsmiths’ Company’s history. She reminded students and guests that hallmarking has been carried out on the site for over five centuries. “We are here to celebrate your success and to share with you, our admiration for what you have achieved,” she said, adding: “You have made it here tonight to this truly magnificent setting, because you have worked and studied hard – and for that I personally commend you. Hard work and passion for jewellery will get you far in this amazing industry.”

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Last year’s winners of the Bransom Awards were congratulated by Emma Garland programme manager of the retail systems business. We then applauded the many students who had achieved Professional Jewellers’ Diploma, Certificate of Appraisal Theory (CAT), Jet Management Diploma and Institute of Registered Valuers’ Fellows. As ever Beaverbrooks was heroically represented – 21 students – and many other NAJ members celebrated the success of multiple graduates, for instance Chisholm Hunter, Watches of Switzerland, Allum & Sidaway, Bentley & Skinner, WE Clark, Wakefields… And while the NAJ’s education reaches the UK’s length and breadth, it was great to celebrate the gains of Dovile Bakanauskaite-Kairiene, who had travelled from Lithuania to collect her CAT certificate.

In recognition not only of Beaverbrooks’ continued, fulsome support of the NAJ’s training programme, but also of the company’s 100th anniversary this year, chairman Mark Adlestone OBE and MD Anna Blackburn were presented with a gift from the Association. It has also just been announced that Adlestone has been chosen by Her Majesty the Queen to be the next High Sheriff of Greater Manchester – so a triple celebration.

The Greenough Trophy

Every year one student in particular has every right to smile more broadly than others stepping up to collect their certificates… and that’s the winner of the Greenough Trophy. This prestigious award is a mark of recognition for skill, dedication and hard work and is presented to the student who achieves the highest aggregate marks, having completed the most outstanding project in the Professional Jewellers’ Diploma.

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This year the accolade went to Leah Hyden of Bright & Sons, Scarborough. Her name joins all previous recipients engraved upon the beautiful trophy that was first awarded in 1946.

The praise from the project moderator was unstinting: “This was a ‘wow’ project – it made it worthwhile getting up at 6.30am when the postie delivered it on Saturday morning! Every part was superb. All done by hand; but what came across in several places was the fact that she has obviously got such a passion for the trade.

“This is one of the best projects I’ve yet marked. Every attention to detail, lots of thinking ‘outside the box’ and every part of every question answered with real passion for her job, and the project work she has been asked to do. There was lovely dialogue throughout, and I can only imagine she has written her project in the way it would be spoken.”

“I’m absolutely overwhelmed to have won the Greenough Trophy – thrilled to bits,” said Leah, who admitted that she was speechless when she was told and even wondered whether they had the right person! “I thoroughly enjoyed the course and in particular the project, which really allowed my imagination to run away, whether it was about organising jewellery pieces for a fashion show or talking to school children about gemstones. Actually, I felt quite sad when the coursework came to an end!”

Leah has worked for Bright & Sons for 17 years and took the JET1 course at the start of her career. Family problems meant that further studies were put on hold, but last year, with huge support from family, friends and colleagues, she was able to continue her education. “I’d also really like to thank and praise my excellent course tutor, Cathryn Richardson, who has been so helpful,” Leah added. “I feel so honoured to have received this trophy, but it’s not just for me, it’s for the whole company in our five stores. I’ve won it for the team.”

Amid the celebration there was also sadness. Simon Forrester gave a tribute to dedicated and popular NAJ tutor Mary Garland, who passed away earlier this year. And it would have been impossible to let the evening go by without thanking a pivotal education team member – Mandy Kelly – who leaves the Association after 17 years of unstinting service. In making a presentation, Heather Callaway, head of the education steering group, reminded us that without Mandy, there would simply be no awards. Good luck in the future Mandy… we’re going to miss you!

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