Colney Heath upholsterer hopes for Prince Charles meeting

Wendy Shorter of Wendy Shorter Interiors show a student how to re-cover a chair

Wendy Shorter of Wendy Shorter Interiors show a student how to re-cover a chair - Credit: Archant

FILM director Stanley Kubrick’s former secretary hopes to meet the Prince of Wales at an award ceremony after her upholstery skills resulted in her being shortlisted for a national accolade.

Wendy Shorter, owner of Wendy Shorter Interiors at Coursers Farm, Coursers Road in Colney Heath, will tonight, May 2, attend the Crafts Skills Awards 2013 hosted by Location, Location, Location television presenter Kirstie Allsopp.

Wendy is in the running for an award for “encouraging craft skills in informal settings”. She has set up the largest upholstery and soft furnishing training centre in the country.

Before Wendy started her business she worked in the film industry and for over six years was secretary for legendary film director Stanley Kubrick, who lived at Childwickbury Manor between St Albans and Harpenden.

Wendy explained that after the birth of her daughter she re-trained as an upholsterer as she had always had a love of sewing.

She learned about upholstery at the then London Guildhall – now the London Metropolitan – University, and studied soft furnishing at West Herts College in Hemel Hempstead.

When it was obvious that she was naturally talented in the craft, Wendy ended up teaching upholstery at both tertiary institutions.

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However, prompted by pupils, she set up her own workshop in Colney Heath in 2006 when funding for the college course was axed.

Wendy said: “I have about 80 students coming through a week. Pupils have a range of skills.

“We have students coming through with no sewing experience, and others who do, from working in upholstery; it’s a real mix.”

Wendy Shorter Interiors is up against four other firms in her category at tonight’s ceremony.

Judges and ambassadors including British writer Sir Christopher Frayling, who has interviewed figures from the world of film including Woody Allen, will attend the awards, which have been created to celebrate the passing on of craft skills.

A spokeswoman for the event explained that despite the UK’s rich history, traditional and contemporary crafts were at risk of dying out if people did not do more to share their knowledge.

The event was created in partnership with organisations including the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, a charity set up by Prince Charles which aims at preserving and promoting heritage skills.

Wendy said: “I’m looking forward to it, particularly as Prince Charles will be at the presentation.”