Loving High Wycombe: Jay Blades in conversation with Helena Chance

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Loving High Wycombe: Jay Blades in conversation with Helena Chance Buckinghamshire History Festival

The Repair Shop's Jay Blades talks to Design Historian Helena Chance about his time based in High Wycombe, as a student, leader of youth engagement projects, and learner furniture restorer.  The conversation covers Jay's love of High Wycombe furniture by Gomme and Parker Knoll, his time at Buckinghamshire New University, what life's like in the Repair Shop Barn, and his pride in his Dyslexia. **25 min**

Brought up by his mother on a council estate in Hackney, Jay’s journey has taken many twists and turns. Jay is dyslexic and, after leaving school at 15 with no qualifications, he eventually managed to get back on track studying for a degree in criminology and philosophy at Buckingham Chilterns University. He then found his true vocation in restoration and supporting vulnerable people in our society through his former charity, Out of The Dark.

Jay Blades is a man whose personality, enthusiasm, and empathy shines brightly every week in millions of homes across the UK as the host of BBC One’s extraordinarily successful ‘The Repair Shop.’

The six-foot three dapper furniture restorer with the flat cap, bold glasses and gold tooth is a truly unique presence on mainstream television. He is the antithesis of the throwaway culture that surrounds us, believing that the old can become new, the worn can shine again, and the broken can be fixed. It is perhaps no coincidence that his belief in the restoration of objects stems from a belief that humans too can be repaired, fixed and rejuvenated. He is the living embodiment of that.

A man whose backstory will give you an idea of the hurdles that he has had to overcome, and how those considerable challenges make the ascent to where he is today seem all that more impressive.

Jay’s forever driven by doing better.

Check out Jay’s furniture

Helena began her career in 1979 as art editor and picture researcher for book publishers, moving on to teach the history of art and design at a number of institutions in Oxford. She joined Buckinghamshire New University as an Associate Lecturer in 2000 and, following the completion of her DPhil in 2010, she became a full-time member of staff. Now, her main role is leader of the ‘Woodlanders Lives and Landscapes’ project, a Bucks New University and Chilterns Conservation Board partnership.

Her specialist knowledge has led Helena to work with Wycombe Museum and The Chilterns Conservation Board on heritage projects, offering new understandings of the Chilterns furniture industry and to connect people more closely to their landscape heritage. She is also working with The Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading and other stakeholders on a project to draw more attention to the archive of the Landscape Institute located at the Museum.

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