Apprenticeship spotlight: Leah Wright, Level 3 Bespoke Saddler
Leah Wright passed her Level 3 Bespoke Saddler Apprenticeship with distinction from The Saddlery Training Centre in Salisbury and Haddon Training.
Mark Romain MBE, Director and Training Advisor at The Saddlery Training Centre, says: “I first met Leah in 2017, shortly before she enrolled on the Level 2 Saddlery Apprenticeship. Over time the firm that Leah worked for ran into problems, and she, along with the other staff, lost their jobs. Desperate to progress to the Level 3 Bespoke Saddler apprenticeship, Leah and I worked hard to find another employer where she could continue her specialist training. Once successful, Leah became the first apprentice to enrol onto the new-style Level 3 Bespoke Saddler apprenticeship.
“Leah has shown such determination and drive to overcome many problems and obstacles in the completion of this journey; this has been matched by the fantastic effort she made to produce a first-class portfolio of evidence and achieve the mandated City & Guild qualifications of Level 3 Bridle and Saddle making. All of this has now been rewarded, with Leah achieving a Distinction; the highest grade possible, and much sought after by all apprentices.”
Haddon Training spoke to Leah to discuss why she chose to enter into saddlery and how it feels to gain such a significant achievement:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I live in a small little town in Surrey. When I finished school, I went on to continue my studies at college where I studied forensic science, business studies and media studies. I initially wanted to go to university and continue my learning in forensic science, but before attending, I took a year out to go travelling. I spent 6 months in amazing places such as Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. After returning home, I had already decided that forensic science no longer appealed to me, and that is when my journey within the saddlery industry really began.
Why did you choose an apprenticeship in Saddlery?
Horses have played such a huge part in my life since I can remember. I have always dreamed of working with animals. When I found out about saddlery, I jumped at the chance to get an apprenticeship so that I could have a future working alongside horses. Being a rider myself, I understand the importance of a well-fitted bridle or saddle, so an apprenticeship in saddlery seemed perfect for me; it enables me to make a tailored product, which ultimately benefits both horse and rider.
Once you completed the level 2 apprenticeship what made you decide to progress to the level 3?
After completing my level 2 in saddlery, I simply didn’t want to stop learning and developing my skills; I had the huge desire and self-motivation to improve myself and learn new skills, which I now use in my day-to-day working life.
How did you find the training on your apprenticeships?
The training I received throughout my apprenticeship really helped me to get where I am today. I had the best time in Salisbury, I learnt a great deal of skills from Mark and my fellow apprentices, and made some forever friends. Apprenticeships aren’t easy, they aren’t a quick shortcut to a qualification, and I did have moments where I could have given up, but luckily I had amazing people around me who have supported me from day one.
Have you had any standout moments or accomplishments whilst on your apprenticeships?
One of my most standout moments was attending the National Saddlery Competition earlier this year where Princess Anne gave a speech. That was where my level 2 saddle got a third-place prize; I was so pleased with the results.
I also had the pleasure of working for Ideal for a short period of time, it was such an honour to work for one of the top saddle manufacturing companies; I learnt a huge amount of skills there which really helped me with completing my level 2 and level 3 saddles.
How did it feel when you found out you got a distinction in your endpoint assessment for your level 3 apprenticeship?
I was so thrilled; it was such a weight off my shoulder knowing that all the hard work had paid off!
What are your plans now that you have achieved your level 3?
I have just started a degree in Veterinary Physiotherapy, which I am really enjoying. I aim to finish a saddle fitting qualification alongside my degree so that I am able to one day treat horses and be able to assess the fit of their saddle. I would also like to do some research within the saddle and bridle fitting, to broaden my knowledge and maybe others.
What would be your advice to anyone considering taking a saddlery apprenticeship?
Go for it! Work hard, keep an open mind but ultimately enjoy yourself and make sure you enjoy what you do.
UKFT is the Government-appointed Sector Skills Body for fashion and textiles in all four nations, working with employers, education providers and other stakeholders to raise the skills and productivity of the people who work in the UK fashion & textile industry.