Memorial appeal launched for “last of a great line” of Sheffield ‘Little Mesters’

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An appeal for a permanent memorial to Sheffield’s “most famous blade maker” was launched last night at a memorial service in Sheffield Cathedral.

Stan Shaw, 94, died in February last year after an eight decade career as a master cutler, making world-class knives for royalty, celebrities and even presidents.

Stan Shaw, last of Sheffield’s Little Mesters

The appeal has been launched to commemorate Sheffield’s Little Mesters with a memorial and heritage trail, starting with a memorial plaque to Mr Shaw outside Cutler’s Hall.

Preliminary design of the plaque to Stan Shaw

Former Lord Mayor, Anne Murphy, launched the appeal at Sheffield Cathedral last night. They aim to raise £10k for the project, which will use digital exhibits to showcase where Stan trained, worked and became a ‘living exhibit’ at Kelham Island Museum.

Georgia Lees, Mr Shaw’s granddaughter said: “It’s incredible to see him recognised by the whole city today. I think it’s really important that the city recognises its own history, not just my grandad but those that came before him.”

Mr Shaw’s family, Georgia Lees (far left), Jane Lees (3rd from the right)

Mr Shaw began his career aged 14, when wandering through a war torn Sheffield, he asked for work at George Ibberson’s knife firm.

Eight decades later, he has gifted knives to the likes of George W. Bush, who called his work “a fine example of English craftsmanship” and Queen Elizabeth, a event which brought a “twinkle” to his eye.

Mr Shaw was awarded a BEM in 1983

Reverend Canon Keith Farrow said: “He had a real twinkle in his eye at the thought of that.

“He would probably describe himself as an ordinary Sheffield lad who went into the cutlery trade almost by accident and became the most famous Sheffield blade maker, the last of a great line. He had a god given gift.”

As well as royalty, Mr Shaw loved gifting his knives to friends and family. His granddaughter Georgia Lees told the Sheffield Wire that Stan gave all his grandchildren handcrafted knives for birthdays and Christmases, leaving her with a collection of 36 knives, to the envy of many collectors.

In 2016, Mr Shaw was also awarded the British Empire Medal, but despite his fame, his family and friends describe him as a “down to earth”, “humble”, “family man”.

His daughter, Janes Lees, said: “He was so humble and devoted to making his knives. It was his passion and he was one of a kind and I don’t think he’ll ever be replaced.”

If you would like to find out more about life as a Little Mester, take a look at this video of Mr Shaw explaining his craft.

To support the appeal please visit the Just Giving page here.

 

 

 

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