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Bill Bird Shoes scoops award for 2nd year running!

Apprenetice shoemaker George Paish from Bill Bird Shoes in the Cotswolds scoops prestigious award
George being presented with his award by Conference organiser Tony Slinger and Bill Bird
George being presented with his award by Conference organiser Tony Slinger and Bill Bird

Apprentice shoemaker George Paish has walked away with a prestigious accolade just five months after joining Bill Bird Shoes in Blockley with no previous footwear experience.

The 26-year-old trainee from Moreton in Marsh was named the winner of the 2019 David Xavier Student Bespoke Shoemaking Award at the Independent Shoemakers’ Conference in Harrogate at the weekend (Feb 22-24). This is the second year running that the award has been scooped by a budding shoemaker from Bill Bird Shoes!

Apprenetice shoemaker George Paish from Bill Bird Shoes in the Cotswolds scoops prestigious award
Bill Bird Shoes apprentice George Paish from Moreton in Marsh was presented with a silver trophy, £200 cash and £200 in leather vouchers. He is pictured with his winning boots, handcrafted wooden lasts and portfolio, alongside a photo of the late David Xavier.

Not only were his leather Derby boots with suede and zip detailing the first pair he had ever made but this born and bred Moreton apprentice beat off stiff competition from two international graduates from the prestigious London College of Fashion and two entrants with Master’s Degrees in Footwear Design.

“I am delighted to have won as I really didn’t expect to. I chose the design as I wanted to create something different and eye catching that made people want to pick them up and look more closely,” said George.

“As the boots were made to my measurements I was able to experience the whole shoemaking process from both a client and maker’s perspective, which was a valuable learning experience and gave me an appreciation for the work we do.

“Having worked in a mixture of industries previously, from healthcare to a brief stint in joinery, it’s helped me realise I always wanted to work in an environment that allows me to be creative, practical and problem solving. Luckily I get to do all of these in the workshop every day!”

The David Xavier Student Bespoke Shoemaking Award entrants with their shoes.
The David Xavier Student Bespoke Shoemaking Award entrants with their shoes.

The award, in memory of Midlands’ shoemaker David Xavier, challenged budding shoemakers to make footwear to accommodate a medical condition. George’s boots accommodated high arches, rear foot equinus (where the upward bending motion of the ankle joint is limited), as well as a wide foot and high sitting toes.

Well done George, we are all really proud of you!

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Shoemakers’ conference planning gets underway

Tony and Jane Slinger visit Bill Bird Shoes' Cotswolds workshop to chat through their plans for the 21st Shoemakers Conference in Harrogate in February 2019
Tony and Jane Slinger visit Bill Bird Shoes' Cotswolds workshop to chat through their plans for the 21st Shoemakers Conference in Harrogate in February 2019
Tony and Jane Slinger visit Bill Bird Shoes’ Cotswolds workshop to chat through their plans for the 21st Shoemakers Conference in Harrogate in February 2019

The Bill Bird Shoes team welcomed Tony and Jane Slinger to our Cotswolds workshop today to discuss the 21st Independent Shoemakers Conference they are hosting in Harrogate next February.

Bill, Russell and Emily have plenty of experience of planning and hosting the much-anticipated annual event and were happy to share their tips. This is the first time Tony and Jane, from T Slinger Footwear, have hosted the event – and they have lots of great ideas up their sleeves!

The conference, taking place on February 22nd – 24th at the Old Swan Hotel, is set to attract shoemakers from across the world, including Lisa Sorrell, America’s finest cowboy bootmaker and Swedish bespoke shoemaker, Carina Eneroth.

The event will include lots of different topics, talks and workshops about shoes and feet and we are very much looking forward to attending.