The Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council gives the Lifetime Achievement Award Medal in recognition of a recipient’s outstanding contribution and commitment to the craft and industry of Silversmithing, Jewellery and the Allied Crafts. The very worthy recipient of the 2014 award, supported by Thomas Fattorini Ltd goes to:
Gerald C Whiles Des RCA
Gerald Whiles studied at Birmingham School of Jewellery and the Royal College of Art during the 1950s. In the 1960s as a designer of ceremonial, ecclesiastical and domestic silver his clients included the British Government, Universities, Local Authorities, and Livery Companies. Returning to Birmingham he taught practical silversmithing skills and design to apprentices and students studying for City and Guilds, Diplomas and Degrees. Appointed Head of School in 1974 gave Gerald the opportunity to work with a highly skilled and committed team to develop and pioneer new courses at all levels to meet student aspirations complimented with a realistic career alignment.
Moving forward and staying viable Gerald needed staff who could coordinate technologies and methods of production to ensure that the School remained relevant to the industry which had been responsible for its establishment in 1890. Gerald was very proactive in ensuring the School built a strong European and international reputation. Student and staff visits and exchanges to European schools, exhibitions and trade fairs together with participation and success in international competitions highlighted the wider opportunities for the students and staff alike. However this also exposed a growing demand to have a home based infrastructure to match its appeal and enviable position.
This pivotal building phase was also led and pioneered by Gerald and in 1990 the University with the support of the City, local industry and the Assay Office he developed the School. Following a major refurbishment the New School of Jewellery was established and completed in 1994.This high quality resource attracted worldwide attention as a centre of excellence and stature, and became the bedrock for the School of Jewellery to further develop and prosper to what it is today, a global leading School of Jewellery and educational centre. Gerald has also been a Liveryman of the Goldsmiths’ Company since 1995. He served on the Company’s Technology and Training Committee for many years and the Goldsmiths’ Centre Education and Training Committee, overseeing the development and build of the Goldsmiths’ Company’s largest ever direct investment in the craft and industry, the Goldsmiths’ Centre, which opened in 2012.
Putting it mildly, Gerald was the entrepreneur, driving force and conduit to instigate and drive these ambitious challenges through to make the School of Jewellery what it is today. Countless students and staff have benefited from his dedication and passion to the common cause; it is a perfect example of selfless commitment and personal ambition for the benefit of so many.