Roaming milliner visits Harpenden school

PUBLISHED: 07:01 09 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:39 06 May 2010

Mary Jane Baxter and Sir John Lawes pupils

Mary Jane Baxter and Sir John Lawes pupils

A CRAFTY journalist with a talent for hat-making has inspired a Harpenden secondary school to make do and mend. Mary Jane Baxter, who describes herself as a maverick milliner with a taste for travel , has set out on a road trip around the country to see

A CRAFTY journalist with a talent for hat-making has inspired a Harpenden secondary school to make do and mend.

Mary Jane Baxter, who describes herself as a "maverick milliner with a taste for travel", has set out on a road trip around the country to see whether the current trend for mending old clothes is a result of the economic climate or merely a fashion fad.

Mary Jane, who is funding her journey by selling her homemade hats along the way, stopped off at Sir John Lawes Secondary School earlier this month (9/10) after a Year 13 student, Charlie Papworth, invited her to join in a textiles class.

Mary Jane said of the day: "I spoke to all the students and brought my hats along too, so it was a real dressing-up box moment! The school kindly paid my petrol money and donated £20 for my talk, which paid for my travel onto my next port of call. I had a great time with the students and there's certainly a lot of making that goes on here."

Charlie said that it was a joy to meet Mary Jane: "I found it really interesting to hear Mary Jane's point of view and how she got to where she is today. She was a real inspiration and is so good at what she does. She also gave us a lot of advice about the different career paths we as textiles students could follow."

Mary Jane intended to move on to Nottingham after leaving Sir John Lawes, but in an ironic twist her car fan belt broke and so to help her on her way, art and textiles teacher, Miss Christine Richardson, made a new one for her out of fabric.

Blob* Sir John Lawes students have also been getting involved in politics this month and, as part of local democracy week, they invited the Mayor of St Albans Cllr Chris Oxley to take part in a Question Time session (14).

Represented by their Head Girl Gwen Jing and Head Boy Jim Thompson, the students quizzed the Mayor and his fellow district councillor panellists on topics ranging from MPs' expenses to proportional representation.

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