Year 2 Northampton Fashion student, Catherine Nevill celebrated her success after being selected in a university competition to win a trip to Hong Kong to visit the Asia Pacific Leather Fair (APLF).

Four Fashion students were given the challenge of creating an item of clothing with a military feel using exquisite ‘Presidency Kid’ leather that was a ‘Best of…’ winner at last year’s APLF. The competition was judged by two external lecturers for the University’s fashion department – Lee Cooke, who designs textiles for Hermes and Salvatore Ferragamo, and footwear designer, Lee Cousins. Catherine was selected over other Year 2 finalists, Natasha Hammond (runner-up), Amy Thompson and Vicky Miles.

A surprised Catherine was delighted when it was announced her design was the winning entry and said she was really excited about going to Hong Kong: ‘The leather was quite hard to manufacture but the finished product was worth it. I can’t believe I’m going to Hong Kong and I’ve only ever been abroad twice!’

The competition is an example of the successful working relationship between the University’s Fashion and Textiles Division and the British School of Leather Technology (BSLT), as fashion and leather students work together on specially tailored projects.

Mark Wilkinson, Head of the BSLT, says the school enjoys a strong relationship with the international leather industry and earlier this year had talks with the managing director of Presidency Kid, Dr Zackria Sait, who shipped the leather directly to the university for the competition. ‘The leather industry is a global business and it is vital that we, as the BSLT, engage with companies within the industry internationally. It is a very exciting time for the leather industry and our school is at the very heart of it.

‘Catherine will have some amazing opportunities in Hong Kong, meeting key figures from the fashion and leather industries, seeing her winning entry on display at the exhibition and on the fashion show catwalk, attending the APLF ceremony and Fashion Access party and acting as an ambassador for the university. She may even have some time for sightseeing in her busy schedule!’

All of the finalists work was on display and used in a catwalk fashion show at the APLF, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Wanchai, which was held from March 28-30, 2007.

Alumni of the British School of Leather Technology met for a reunion on March 28 at 18.00 in Room 209-210 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

After 38 years with Satra, Dr Ron Whittaker, who has been chief executive of the technology centre since 1991, is to retire in June.

His successor will be Richard Turner, currently deputy chief executive. Justin Simmons, currently executive director, will become deputy chief executive from July.

Over the past 15 years Satra has increasingly served a truly global membership, diversified into a successful technology centre for a number of consumer and industrial product sectors and built a new 75,000 sq ft laboratory and office complex in Kettering.

Richard Turner, who will be only the sixth person to hold the position in Satra’s 88 years of operation, joined straight from school, but left to gain direct experience of adhesives and footwear manufacture. Since rejoining Satra in 1973 he has held a number of senior positions.

This year’s Leather Finishing Week, run by Stahl at the British School of Leather Technology, was again a success with a competitive element being introduced to help evaluate skills. Wolfgang Schmälzle, from Stahl Europe, Waalwijk, the Netherlands, organised the course around a mixture of theoretical and practical input aimed at educating the group of BSLT’s overseas students in the basics of leather finishing. Students’ skills in achieving the correct colour match were evaluated to provide a good natured competitive element during the week. A prize was awarded by Stahl for the most accurate interpretation of the final shade.

All students were presented with a Certificate of Attendance at the close of the course and some were invited to attend additional training at the Stahl Europe Application Laboratories in Waalwijk to expand their experience in both wet-end and leather finish applications.

In preparation for the leather finishing course, Jacques Daamen, Stahl Europe’s wet-end products sales manager for Northern Europe had organised an earlier course at the BSLT during which he explained his experience and skills in retanning and preparation of specialised leathers such as automotive wet-white and wet-blue, waterproof and shoe upper. Using this knowledge to devise their own formulations and carry out small scale practical trials on various leathers from the BSLT tannery, the students gained a high level of self-confidence which was beneficial on the later course.

John Avery, the current president of the SLTC UK, is now established as a solo consultant as Avery Leather Consulting Ltd. ALC Ltd, PO Box 152, Grest-Driffield, East Yorkshire, YO25 5WS. []