Born in Newtownards, Co. Down, on the Ards Peninsula, James currently lives in Belfast and his workshop is in Newry, Co. Down. He started working with leather when he was 13 years old and, over the years, he has trained with various skilled Master Saddlers but only formalised his training in City & Guilds in 2010 / 11.
He is a Qualified Master Saddler and his work consists of saddlery and harnesswork, and bespoke leatherwork. In 2007 James began side saddle refurbishment training with Richard Godden and self-funded a number of courses in refurbishment as a precursor to the side saddle manufacturing courses which QEST are now so generously assisting him with by granting a scholarship in conjunction with the Worshipful Company of Saddlers, without which , he would struggle to fund this training. This scholarship will allow James to complete this training with Richard Godden, who is now semi-retired, but willing to train those who are willing to learn these ancient heritage skills.
For the last three years James has entered the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) Craft Awards and, on each of these occasions, he has won a major prize and his work has been included in the RDS Craft Exhibition, which travels around Ireland. Going forward, James hopes that this amazing QEST scholarship will open the door to a host of new and exciting opportunities that will help him to learn, and expand his horizons and work with other QEST scholars to help keep heritage crafts alive for the future.