A ceramics maker and teacher from Market Harborough has overcome a brain haemorrhage as a teenager to win a national prize. Katherine Fortnum (27), a former Robert Smyth pupil, is one of just five finalists in the national Stelios Awards for Disabled Entrepreneurs 2017.
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She has won £10,000 so far, but could win £30,000 if she is chosen from a shortlist of five as the competition’s overall winner. Katherine, who has run Katherine Fortnum Ceramics for under four years, told the Mail: “I couldn’t believe it when I got the phone call. To be honest I bawled my eyes out – happy tears! “Ever since I was 13 I have struggled with life-threatening operations. “I have an invisible disability (little feeling on her left side) which few people know about outside my family and I have never been able to really embrace who I am. “Being shortlisted has given me such confidence, and made me understand I shouldn’t be ashamed.” Katherine basically creates all her beautiful, nature-inspired ceramics one-handed, including tying the bows on her coaster sets.
She also passes her skill – acquired through a BA Hons in Design Crafts at De Montfort University – on to other people through her teaching. She said: “I’ve always been interested in craft, but ceramics was always number one. “The first time I opened a kiln and saw my finished pieces in all their glory, I was so excited and happy and I’ve never looked back. “And I also found that ceramics helped my ongoing recovery – mentally and physically.”
Now Katherine is off to London for the competition final, and an interview with the entrepreneur behind the awards – easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who teams up with charity group Leonard Cheshire Disability. “I just hope I don’t get emotional” she smiled.
For info, courses and online shop visit: katherinefortnumceramics.com