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Folkingham upholsterer showcases skills on BBC TV hit The Repair Shop



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Folkingham craftswoman Hannah Weston Smith is set to showcase her skills on hit BBC TV show The Repair Shop tonight (Wednesday).

Hannah, who runs an upholstery and furniture conservation business in the village, was tasked to bring a gilt-framed Italian open arm chair back to its former glory in the primetime show which has become a surprise hit.

It is the third episode Hannah has worked on in the series, having also featured last spring and in December, but this will be her first individual project.

She was invited to stand in temporarily for the show’s regular upholstery expert Sonnaz Nooranvary.

Hannah Weston Smith on the Repair Shop set in 2019
Hannah Weston Smith on the Repair Shop set in 2019

“It was a really wonderful opportunity and I was very flattered they asked me to fill in,” said Hannah, 38.

“I did a leather chair with the leather repair expert Suzie Fletcher and was then on just before Christmas helping to restore a fishing tackle box.

“This one was my first solo project. The chair belonged to a lady whose parents had died in the space of eight months and found it when clearing out the house.

“It brought back lots of memories of her parents, and she wanted to honour her mother and her memory.”

Hannah's first project was work to restore a leather chair with expert Suzie Fletcher (left)
Hannah's first project was work to restore a leather chair with expert Suzie Fletcher (left)

Hannah, who specialises in older pieces of furniture and antiques, shot the episodes in 2019, with this week’s programme taking about five days of filming.

“It was a big repair job,” she explained.

“The gilt needed restoration and repairing in areas, and the upholstery needed a lot doing to it. But it was a lovely piece.”

The finished article after being lovingly restored by Hannah
The finished article after being lovingly restored by Hannah

Her debut on the small screen may never have come to pass without some gentle persuasion.

“My parents were massive fans of the show and the day I got the phone call to go on, my dad called and told me all about this show,” she added.

“I said ‘oh, someone has called about going on, but I’m not sure’, so my dad said ‘if they ask you, do it!’

“So I went on for my parents really!"

Filming for Hannah's first solo project took about five days
Filming for Hannah's first solo project took about five days

She added: “What you see on TV is exactly how it is there.

“As most craftspeople work alone, it was lovely to work alongside other people for a change and chat.

“Everyone was so nice and had a similar mindset, working on this lovely programme helping people come to terms with a sad event or historical event within their families.

“It repairs more than the tangible objects.

“I do that on a daily basis and it’s why I love my job.”

Hannah started training as an upholsterer in 2005, going on to complete a masters in furniture conservation at High Wycombe and an apprenticeship before moving to Folkingham in 2011.

Her workshop opened its doors the following year, and in 2013, Hannah’s partner Sara Smith, opened her interior design business, Smith and British, next door in Sleaford Road.

“I have not looked back and never had a week without work,” she said.

“You are never going to be a millionaire, but the main thing is about the contact you have with clients, working through what they want and making a perfect new memory.”

The show airs on BBC 1 at 8pm.



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