Bursary winner praises ‘inspirational’ adult learning course

English teacher Charlotte Haenlein has praised an ‘inspirational’ adult learning course after it helped her win a coveted £1,000 bursary to develop her textile skills.

Mrs Haenlein, 66, a mother-of-two from Little Milton near Thame, received the award last month following three years of study at the Buckinghamshire Adult Learning centre at Missenden Abbey.

Now she intends to use the money to help her travel to Iran to create new pieces of work inspired by Persian civilisation.

She was one of just a handful of students selected by their tutors across the UKto showcase work completed for their City & Guilds ‘Patchwork & Quilting’ qualification in August at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham. And she was then chosen as a winner of the Quilters’ Guild’s bursary.

The pride of her collection was ‘Memories of Nepal’,a hand-stitched quilted and appliquéd hanging in silk which took eight months to create. It was inspired by her trekking holidays in Nepal.

Mrs Haenlein explained: “In 2011, I happened to visit a Missenden Abbey Adult Learning Open Day, purely out of interest and with no intention of enrolling on any course. But then I walked into Barbara Weeks’s City & Guilds Certificate Level 3 in Patchwork and Quilting course and saw the class in action. The creative buzz, the variety of techniques, the double focus on craft and design caught my imagination… and I enrolled on the spot!

“Although I came to the course with long experience as a silk painter, I had little experience in sewing, and no previous knowledge of patchwork and quilting. The course was an extremely steep learning curve! But by the second year I gained confidence, and terror gradually turned into excitement and a sense of potential.”

Last June, she was proud to achieve the Certificate Level 3 in Patchwork & Quilting – and ‘amazed’ at the additional recognition of the City & Guild’s Medalfor Excellence. She was then stunned this year to be rewarded with the bursary as a follow-up to all her good work.

She added: “The course has been inspirational. It has not only taught me new techniques, but new ways to look. I now see design potential everywhere, and can’t wait to translate my ideas into textiles.”

Her amazement at winning the £1,000 turned to excitement as she planned her next venture.

“I am principally inspired by the colours and the designs of a culture, and my ambition is to go to Iran and be inspired by Persian culture,” she said. “My tutor has put me in touch with a colleague who teaches City & Guilds Patchwork & Quilting in Tehran, and she has invited me to stay with her, meet her group and also do some teaching there. What a wonderful opportunity to connect with the Iranian people! I am making arrangements to go early next year.”

Zena Sutcliffe, Learning Services Manager at Buckinghamshire Adult Learning, said: “It is fantastic to hear stories such as this from our students. Charlotte is fast becoming a star in the world of textiles and I am pleased we had some part to play in this!”

To find out more about Buckinghamshire Adult Learning at Missenden Abbey, or if there is a course that suits you, go towww.missendenabbey-al.co.ukor call01296 383582.