A talented fashion designer from Wetherby who started sewing only two years ago has been recognised at this year’s Yorkshire Young Achievers Awards.
Berenice Gilmour, 38, trained as a dancer and ran her own dancing school, but when her eldest daughter needed a dance costume, she realised that designing clothes was her real passion.
Berenice borrowed her daughter’s sewing machine to design a costume, and family and friends were so impressed by her creation that more commissions followed.
She said: “When I made the costume, I just thought, ‘I need a proper job doing this’. It was a massive change for me going from dance to fashion, but I just knew it was something I needed to do there and then.]
“And it just went from there. I didn’t know anything about sewing but I started taking lessons at Leeds City College, and I’m now in my third year of a fashion degree at Harrogate College. It’s exciting to have the chance to do something I love.”
Berenice was presented with the Achievement in Education Young Achievers award at a glittering ceremony on November 17 at Leeds United’s Centenary Pavilion in recognition of her succeess at the Harrogate Bridal Show, where she was crowned Best Student Designer by Bridal Buyer, for a design based on a birds of paradise brief.
The day after winning the title at the Harrogate Bridal Show, Berenice approached Leeds bridal designer Anita Massarella, and now has an internship with the retailer while she completes her degree.
Berenice said: “All my life I have driven past her shop, and I just thought I might as well knock on the door and see if I could have a chat. I just can’t believe that it’s happened and I have the internship, I never expected anything. I couldn’t believe it when she asked me when I could start.
“I’m a mum with four kids and I am used to giving all of my pride to them, but it’s nice to be recognised at the awards. I don’t think I would be doing all this without my kids, I want to be a role model for them and show that you can do anything if you set your mind to it.
“For anyone thinking about doing something they haven’t done before, I would say just go for it. You just have to believe in yourself.”
Approaching the end of her fashion degree, Berenice now hopes to complete a Masters degree in Creative Pattern Cutting at Huddersfield University.
She said: My mum thought that I would get more awards for dancing, not for sewing. It’s all happened so quickly.
“I’m looking forward to carrying on and I really want to do the masters. My kids and my mum are really proud of me, my eldest knows how hard it is to be at university without kids, and can’t imagine how hard it is for me to juggle university with kids.
“But as people say, when you have more to do and more to juggle, you often find yourself getting more done because you have a lot of responsibilities pushing you on.”