Berian Neville-Webber
Berian Neville-WebberTutor
At Leather School we love to help people find their passion for leather work and watch it grow. Berian has been through the whole process. When Berian started on a Leather School two hour workshop it was clear from the word go that he was going to be unstoppable. An opportunity opened up for Berian to work at the Tanner Bates leather workshop, where Leather School is based, and he jumped right in with both feet. Since then Berian has put in thousands of workshop hours of cutting, stitching and crafting beautiful leather products, and still goes home and makes more in his spare time. We put Berian in front of a class of eager leather students and it turned out that he had a hidden gift for teaching. His ability to make people feel comfortable and undaunted by making that first cut into a precious piece of vegetable tanned leather is a wonderful thing. Before you know it, Berian will have given you the confidence and skill to create something really impressive.
Giles Charnaud
Giles CharnaudTutor
Giles is another one of our home-grown success stories. According to Giles it was ‘decided’ that he needed to develop a hobby before retiring. It is clear that Giles’ first step of attending our Essential Skills course was an inspired one. Something lit his fire on those two days and his fledgling hobby has morphed into a joyful passion and creative occupation. Leather working now takes up most of Giles’ spare time; when he’s not teaching on our courses he’s either dreaming up and producing incredible pieces of leather work, or he can be found at a flea market in some European hilltop town bargaining for an ancient leather artefact to work with.
Giles loves being a tutor on the Leather School courses as much as he enjoys making things himself. Being part of the journey that participants make and seeing the joy in arriving at lovely finished articles, be it a belt, bag or whatever the imagination sparks, is hugely rewarding. As for those who encouraged him into leather work in the first place, Giles has let on that he is very proud that his fashion conscious daughters consider his work to be ‘rather beautiful’, and if you get to meet him, ask him how the ostrich leather bag that he is making for his wife is coming along.
James Irwin
James IrwinTutor
If leather working was a sport then James would be one of those wunderkind athletes that you see at the Olympics, or in a Premiership team where you scratch your head that one so young can be so skilled. Like Berian, James works by day at Tanner Bates, where he is the workshop manager. His speciality is product design and manufacture of Hero range of hand stitched bags and watch straps. James has a real talent for understanding how leather artefacts can be constructed and having James as a tutor on our courses is a real asset, especially when it comes to helping students realise their dreams. He will work with your imagination, lead you through the pattern making process and bring together the perfect combination of materials, tools and skills to produce work that will make you tingle with pride and pleasure every time you see it.
John Hagger
John HaggerFounder Tanner Bates Ltd and Leather School
At Leather School John is the source; on the one hand he founded the school, and on the other, John is the place where we go for inspiration, guidance and knowledge. Leatherwork was a mid-life change for John – he decided to train as a saddler at the age of 45 with no previous practical or creative experience. However, there was something deep in his being that led him on this journey; John’s grandfather was a leather guilder in Soho, and so leather had always held a fascination for him from boyhood onwards. Now, having worked closely with leather for more than twenty years John says that he is still in awe of it as a raw material, its endless versatility, and the uniqueness of each hide that passes through his hands.
Leather School grew up alongside John’s leather production business, Tanner Bates. Over the years John has found that teaching leatherwork has been a great way for him to support others as well as discovering new ways and techniques for his own work. Having passed on his skills and knowledge to the other Leather School tutors, John is a somewhat lesser spotted course leader these days, but he loves the leather and he loves the teaching; he often can’t resist popping into a course to catch the scent of creativity. If you see him, make sure you get him to share the depth of his experience and breadth of his knowledge.
Alice Wood
Alice WoodTutor
I studied 3d design, specializing in jewellery and silversmithing, at Loughborough University for my degree and then spent many years working for a handmade shoe company making and designing leather shoes and accessories.
Years and 3 children later…I have started designing and making bags for myself. My workshop is in Totnes, where I design and make bags and accessories. At the moment I am also organising a jewellery work space so that I can combine the two materials.
My work tends to be inspired by simple lines, organic shapes and the quality of the materials. I like things to be practical and believe that “form follows function”, there is beauty in well made and designed items.

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