QEST WAS THE BRAINCHILD OF THE ROYAL WARRANT HOLDERS ASSOCIATIONS’ SECRETARY, HUGH FAULKNER AND STRONGLY SUPPORTED BY THE PRESIDENT, BARRY AUSTIN REED AS TRADITIONAL CRAFTS WERE DECLINING
at the expense of new industries. British crafts needed support at an individual level to retain creative and talented craftspeople vitally needed by Royal Warrant holding companies.
In 1990 the Royal Warrant Holders Association made the decision to create a scholarship fund to help promising craftsmen to develop their skills by working with masters of their craft. The late Hon.Anna Plowden, Michael Skinner, Bryan Toye and Sam Twining were, with Barry Reed as chairman, founding trustees of the new charity, formed to mark the 150th anniversary of the Association and the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, who graciously consented for her name to be used for the new charity.
Initially, funds to mark the joint celebration were donated entirely by Royal Warrant holding companies, with one third destined for a charity of The Queen Mother’s own choice and two-thirds for the creation of QEST. Queen Elizabeth, however, chose to donate her one-third part to QEST, ensuring that the new charity began life with a capital sum close to £1 million. Initially, applications for scholarships were solicited from warrant holding companies for their own talented craftsmen, but very soon applications were being received from craftsmen from all quarters and a wide selection of crafts; this trend continues to this day.
Of the 407 scholars and apprentices we have funded over the years, approximately 93% are still practicing their craft professionally and, many are acknowledged as exceptional leaders in their field. They are in demand from all corners of the globe as well as earning commissions across the United Kingdom. These ambassadors of craft include Rod Kelly (silver and goldsmith); Shem Mackey (luthier); Gary Drostle (mosaic artist); Andrian Melka (sculptor) and Charlotte de Syllas (jeweller).
The vision of the founding trustees and Royal Warrant holders has enabled QEST to continue to encourage and develop outstanding individuals who demonstrate extraordinary talent in British traditional and contemporary crafts to excel in their chosen trades and make a vital contribution to the British craft industry.