Jay Blades says craft let him ‘achieve the unachievable’ as he accepts MBE

The furniture restorer found fame on BBC One’s The Repair Shop.

TV Choice Awards 2019 – London
TV Choice Awards 2019 – London

The Repair Shop’s Jay Blades has said he hopes his MBE will inspire others to take up craft and “achieve the unachievable”.

The furniture restorer and host of the BBC One show, 51, is recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his services to craft.

Blades, originally from Hackney in east London, said the skillset had offered him a sense of purpose despite his difficult academic beginnings.

He told the PA news agency: “What craft has done for me is allowed me to achieved the unachievable. When you can make something, you can actually see a tangible object that is there that you have achieved.

“I came out of school with no GCSEs, no qualifications. I went to university, studied and got a degree – but when you make something, it is like, ‘I made that’.

“If you make something for your house, every day when you walk past it you have this sense of achievement that is just like, ‘Wow – yeah, I did that’.”

After leaving school, Blades worked in a number of jobs, including in a frozen sausage factory, a bottle factory and a Christmas card factory, before retraining aged 29.

He said he was “over the moon” about the honour.

He added: “It’s hard to think of where I come from, growing up, where I was six years ago – and then be able to say, ‘Yeah, I will accept an MBE’.

“It is just unbelievable. Never in your wildest dreams would you ever believe something like this would happen.”

Blades, who runs Out of the Dark, a charity training disadvantaged young people in furniture restoration, said he hoped his accolade would encourage others to take up the skill.

He said: “When people see that I have received it because of my contribution towards craft it makes it look like everything is accessible.

“Craft is accessible to anybody, (whatever) gender, race or disability. It is one of those things where all of us have this element inside of us that makes us worker bees.

“So we like to make things. And once you start making something you get the bug and that is just it. You dive into the world of craft.”

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