Becoming a QEST scholar is something that I have dreamt about since first seeing the leaflet [about them] at the Saddlery Training Centre in 2016.

In July of this year, I applied to the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, known simply as QEST.

I had to keep it quiet until now as there is such a long process to wade through, I didn’t want to put anything to chance. All my energy was directed into manifesting my dream of getting chosen for the scholarship.

If you’re not quite sure what I mean by manifesting then I suggest you take a quick look here. I first learnt about manifesting when I read Gabby’s book ‘The Universe Has Your Back’, I’ve not looked back since.

My intention is to advance my knowledge and skills in bridle making and bit and bridle fitting techniques with a Master Saddler, who also specialises in bridle making and bridle fitting.

This is something I feel I have missed out on since training to become a saddler, due to starting later in life and having to go down the route of private tuition. Had my situation allowed it, I would rather have got an apprenticeship with a Master Saddler.

Anyway, back to the application of QEST. I completed the online application form and sent it off; waiting excitedly to hear back from them.

WHAT IS QEST

The official write-up from QEST states that: ‘The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) funds the education of talented and aspiring craftspeople through traditional college courses, apprenticeships or one-to-one training with master craftspeople.

QEST was established to help support craftspeople of all ages, from all backgrounds and at critical stage in their careers and thus sustain traditional British craftsmanship. As a charity of the Royal Warrant Holders Association, QEST was established in 1990 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Association and the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother.

Since 1990 the Trust has awarded over £4.9 million to over 550 craftspeople, across 130 craft disciplines. In May 2017 HRH The Prince of Wales became the charity’s Patron with Vice-Patrons The Earl of Snowdon and the Marquess of Salisbury.’

If you would like to read more about this charity then be sure to visit their website: www.qest.org.uk

SELECTION STAGES

I had already applied to QEST the year before (2019) when I thought bag-making was the avenue to go down. After a year of hard work building my business, I took a long look into where my passion lies. Once I decided I want to make a difference in the equestrian world rather than designing bags, I applied for the bridle-making and bridle fitting courses.

September came and I received an email from QEST informing me that I had in fact been chosen as part of their stage 1 selection process and would be put forward for their stage two. I suspect the second stage is when they whittle applicants down to a more manageable number to interview in person.

THE INTERVIEW

Finally, what felt like an eternity, in October, I received another email congratulating me on being selected for interview. I truly couldn’t believe it! Thankfully, I was sat down when the news came through else I think I would have collapsed with shock.

I was given a date for the interview to attend the QEST offices in London. I was so excited at the prospect of travelling to London, somewhere I rarely get the chance to go.

Sadly, due to the lockdown 2.0 restrictions, my face to face interview was cancelled and an online interview was arranged instead. I’m not sure if this was a good or bad thing, as I was really looking forward to going to London. To me, it was about the whole experience not just getting the interview.

During my interview, I was really nervous. I tend to waffle on a little too much when I’m nervous but the panel of interviewers were lovely. They made it such a friendly atmosphere; I soon relaxed and answered all their questions as best I could.

At the end of the interview, I felt good. I knew I had done my best. Still, the uncertainty of not knowing whether I’d done enough to get chosen was unnerving. To top it off I was going to have to wait another TWO whole weeks for their final answer. I think I literally stopped breathing for those weeks as it’s such a blur of time.

NOW A SCHOLAR

November 5th (Bonfire Night) was the day I found out I had in fact been selected for a scholarship. I still couldn’t say anything and the excitement was just too much to contain. I did, obviously, tell my family and some very close friends but I didn’t tell anyone else until the paperwork had been signed and QEST confirmed I could announce it.

It has since been confirmed that I will now be known as the 2020 QEST Saddlers’ Company Scholar. I am so grateful for this opportunity to become the best in my field.

I have a profile page on the Directory of the QEST website which explains a little bit about me and what my scholarship will be used for. Feel free to view it here.

A LIFETIME OF SUPPORT

The beauty of becoming a QEST scholar is that you don’t just get a scholarship and then when you are done you dwindle out of sight and out of mind. You become part of the QEST family; their Alumni for life!

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my recent exciting news. Similarly to when I started my trainee Saddler journal, I will also document my advanced training journey. I hope you will continue to join me on this adventure of a lifetime, now as a QEST Scholar.

Until next time, take care. Clair xx”

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