Top fashion designer Patrick Grant collected an honorary Doctorate of Letters from us at our 2017 Graduation Ceremony.
The 45-year-old, who is best known as a judge on hit BBC2 show the Great British Sewing Bee, received the accolade at Old Parish and Saint Paul’s Church.
Patrick, who is the director of Saville Row tailors Norton and Sons and a designer at Debenhams, also joined in a special reception in the gardens of Old Gala House to celebrate.
Patrick said “It’s been an amazing day. I’m deeply touched to have been given this honour and it’s particularly nice, as an Edinburgh boy with strong connections to the Borders and to Galashiels.
“It couldn’t have been any better. My grandfather and my grandmother lived here for many years. My grandfather worked here.
“My granny lived about half a mile from here and I still come down here regularly. My dad lives the other side of Stow so I’m here a lot.
“We buy cloth for the business from Selkirk, we buy a lot of knitwear from Hawick and we buy some of our knitwear from a small manufacturer here in Galashiels, so we have strong connections with the textile and knitwear industries here.
“I also try where possible to get Debenhams to buy a certain amount of textiles and knitted garments from Scotland for my Hammond & Co collection, so I have strong links and I am very proud to have those connections. I want to do my best to try and act as an ambassador wherever I go.”
He explained how a chance encounter got him into the industry.
“I always had a passion for design, but never once thought I would go into the fashion industry.
“I did an engineering degree and worked in science and technology for many years. Fashion was a completely chance encounter – a small advert on the back of the Financial Times that said Norton and Sons was for sale. I had a complete change of career.
“I felt it was the right place for me and all my friends thought it was obvious. I have been very lucky to have a great career so far and I feel like I am only just getting started. It’s only been 12 years and hopefully I’ve got another 20 or 30 years of great service to this industry to come.”
The Edinburgh-born designer also wants attitudes to change and has set up a scheme to make affordable clothing.
He said: “We have just started a social enterprise called Community Clothing which aims to make brilliant quality affordable British clothing in British factories in their quieter periods. We have a mill in Hawick where we make our knitwear.
“I think we have an enormous opportunity to build something globally significant. I think we can build a big company which creates and sustains a lot of jobs. We have factories in Scotland, in England and we’re hoping to add a factory in Wales very soon.
“This is an industry that I think has a tremendous future and I think we have the opportunity to create fantastic jobs for lots of people for whom academia might not be the right route.