Industry ambassador Barbara Beadman was recently awarded an MBE for her services to the glass industry. She discusses how her work gave her the opportunity to help glassmakers.
**This is an abridged version of an article which appears in full in our May issue - see link below.**
Barbara Beadman has been involved in glass for more than 40 years. Whether it has been helping young people join the industry or working with regional authorities to help local companies, glass - and the industry - has always been in her blood.
She was recently awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her service to the sector.
Upon hearing the news Mrs Beadman said she was ‘stunned’.
After an eventful evening of double-booked hotels, taxis not turning up, and heavy rain while trying to attend a dinner in London, Mrs Beadman received the news via email.
“The next morning, my feet were sore, and my coat was still damp. Then, I got an email. And I thought, how mean, somebody’s playing a hoax on me.
“I was absolutely stunned. Because you don’t think of ordinary people like me getting something special like that.
“I was, as you can imagine, over the moon. I was delighted. But I said to my husband, ‘I’m going to wait until I’m told properly’.”
It wasn’t until Mrs Beadman received a call from her local paper for a quote that she believed the award was real.
The MBE was awarded for services to the glass industry, which Mrs Beadman relates to her work with glass students and artists.
She was presented with her MBE at Windsor Castle on the March 8th, which was International Women’s Day. Princess Anne bestowed her award in the Queen’s Drawing Room. Her husband and two daughters were also able to attend.
“We had a fabulous day. My daughter was able to get over from Germany and my other daughter was also able to attend, because we’re allowed to take three people, and it was absolutely amazing.”
Services to the industry
As part of both British Glass and the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers, Mrs Beadman has been able to provide opportunities for glassmakers.
Last year, she assisted with the Beckett Pageant for London, which celebrated its 702nd anniversary.
The Beckett competition allowed livery companies, including the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers, to set up stalls at the Guildhall Yard in London. She said this gave visitors an insight into what was behind the glass industry, and also provided openings for young glassmakers to make connections within the industry.
She believes providing chances for newcomers is essential to ensure the industry has talented glassmakers for the future: “If they do well, the industry does too.”
Mrs Beadman has been involved in the industry since 1980, when she became chair of the Friends of Broadfield House Glass Museum, UK where she worked for 25 years.
She later co-owned technical glass manufacturer Plowden & Thompson with her husband Richard.
The company has a 100-year history and makes specialist glasses. During Mrs Beadman’s time there, this included coloured tubing for neon signs, coloured rods for artists, and tubing which had an outside diameter of only 0.2mm.
In the early 2000s, the company was involved with the British Glass Manufacturing Confederation, now known as British Glass.
Mrs Beadman was invited onto the board to represent small companies who made specialist glass and crystal. She believes working with such a diverse range of glass allowed her to meet a variety of glassmakers, which gave her a unique perspective on the industry.
“I represented the glass industry for the West Midlands Regional Development Corporation. So, I was able to work with people and get money into the area for glassmakers.
“But I suppose really one of the big things I’ve had the opportunity to do is to work with students and artists. We’ve been involved with people from all around the world. I have been in a very unique position that I’ve had the opportunity to help people.”
Mrs Beadman stayed with Plowden & Thompson until her and her husband retired.
To this day, Mrs Beadman is still a member of British Glass, and has been in the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers for 20 years. Last year, she was the third Lady Master of the organisation (see left), which she described as a brilliant year.
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