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As a company, Christopher Ward has always been committed to supporting the development of grassroots British watchmaking talent. That’s why on the evening of Tuesday 13th June, co-founder Chris Ward and Technical and QC Manager Andrew Henry travelled to Birmingham City University’s School of Jewellery to attend the department’s end of year awards.

Offering a Bachelor of Arts degree and a reputation as the most highly regarded horology course offered by any university in the UK, an evening at the department provided the perfect opportunity for Chris and Andrew to meet its 2017 graduates, as well as presenting a prize to recognise one student’s outstanding academic achievements throughout the academic year.

How did your relationship with BCU’s Horology BA course emerge?

Chris: It started about three years ago. Andrew (Henry, CW Technical and QC Manager) and I were invited up to visit the department, not only to look around its facilities but also to meet students studying on its Horology – BA (Hons) course.

We’ve always been motivated to help support grassroots British talent, whether its inviting students for work experience or helping people interested in making the move into watchmaking. Ultimately, these individuals and departments need as much as support as they can get, and part of our grander mission plan is to help as far as we can.

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Programme leader Jeremy Hobbins (left) with CW’s Technical and QC Manager Andrew Henry

What is involved in your relationship with the department at BCU?

Andrew: When we were invited up by Jeremy Hobbins (the course’s Programme Leader) for the end of year awards, we asked if could donate some older mechanical and quartz movements for his students to work on.

In the industry, due to a matter of time it’s normally more efficient to replace a part than fix it. In the case for these students on the Horology course, it’s a less pressurised environment; as the course is based more in practical theory, they can work as methodically as they like. Hopefully the movements we donated will give them a greater hands-on experience.

Chris: For the last couple of years, we’ve also donated a watch to the Department for their awards ceremony. This year, we donated a C60 Trident Pro 600 to a student nominated by Jeremy for his or her outstanding work throughout the academic year.

Who was the lucky winner?

Chris: It went to Samantha McAteer-Moreau, who received the award for technical innovation. She designed a skeleton clock with a large escape wheel [pictured in the banner above], with the outstanding aspect being her engineering of a 60 tooth wheel on the escape arbor, instead of a pinion. The delicacy of her work was mindboggling – to me, it reaffirmed why we need to continue supporting the department in the way we have!

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Co-founder Chris Ward presents outstanding achievement award winner Samantha McAteer-Moreau with a C60 Trident Pro 600

Is there any potential for BCU graduates to move to CW?

Chris: The growth of the business will require more technically skilled people, and BCU’s course allows its graduates to start work at the bench in possession of a great understanding of horology. We’ve already had a number of students on placement with us and as we grow, I’m sure we will be taking a number of these graduates on a full time basis.

Andrew: We recently had a sixth form student write to us and ask if he could undertake his work experience at CW, as his ambition is to apply for BCU’s course. Who knows – maybe we could help him on his way to winning their outstanding achievement award!

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