Earlier this year I was asked by Mary and David Davis, from Dee Two Limited, if I’d like to join them in London to help celebrate the centenary of the British Travelgoods & Accessories Association. The BTAA are a trade association, that Dee Two belongs to, and an organisation who are committed to promoting the growth and image of the fashion accessories, handbags, leathergoods and travelgoods industry.
The venue for this event was to be the Palace of Westminster, and as David correctly said to me, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, Derek.” I jumped at the chance, and said that I’d be delighted to accompany them.
A couple of weeks ago a sunny London morning greeted us, as Mary, David and I rendezvoused in Parliament Square. With invitations from Lord Hoyle of Warrington and passports in hand, we approached security at the Visitors Entrance, who then immediately sent us to Black Rod’s Garden Entrance. After bags and bodies had been completely scanned and searched, we were inside the Palace of Westminster. Then we discovered that no one knew anything about the BTAA event. After a few telephone calls, it was suggested that we returned to the main Visitors Entrance and try again there. We did, and second time around we were granted entrance.
When we walked into Westminster Hall we were greeted by Diana Blair, Chief Executive of the BTAA. As our party assembled, we were allocated tour guides who then took us on a fascinating journey through the Palace of Westminster. We wandered along St Stephen’s Hall, and via the Peers’ Lobby to the House of Lords. Personally I was itching to take photographs, but as photography isn’t allowed past the Central Lobby, you’ll have to take my word for it that the level of craftsmanship and opulence of this room exceeds anything that you see on the television. And it’s much smaller too!
After watching the Speaker’s Procession to the House of Commons, we were then shown to the Terrace Pavilion with its stunning views across the River Thames. Lord Foulkes of Cumnock – who was deputising for Lord Hoyle – treated us to a fascinating history about the BTAA, from its origins as the Saddlery, Harness and General Leathergoods Manufacturers Association through to the present day. BTAA Chairman, David Nathan, spoke eloquently about the challenges that all leather and travel goods manufacturers face in the every changing retail marketplace. Finally Diana Blair thanked those of us who were there, those who were unable to attend, and paid tribute to notable people from the Association’s past who had helped it reach this significant milestone.
Post-speeches I met and spoke to a host of talented individuals: Paul McAnespie, an inventor, and creator of LuGG-Away; Stevan Saville, a graduate from the London College of Fashion, and designer of exquisite leather accessories; and Gerald Bodmer, former Chairman of the BTAA, and CEO of Launer. I found Mr Bodmer particularly inspirational. If I have half the enthusiasm for the visual communication industry, when I reach his age, as he has now for the leather goods industry, then I’ll be a very happy man. I also approved of his philosophy that no one should ever apologise for the price of their products or services. “Everyone has their market,” he said. That short sentence struck a real chord with me.
In summary, this was definitely one of those memorable days, never to be forgotten. I felt honoured to have been asked by Dee Two to attend the event in the first place, and glad that I decided to take up their invitation. So congratulations British Travelgoods & Accessories Association on reaching your 100th birthday, and we wish you continued success in your next 100 years!
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