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Society of Dyers and Colourists announces Royal School Needlework chief exec as new president

Published: June 10, 2024

Global industry body the Society of Dyers and Colourists has elected a new president for 2024/25 following its recent annual general meeting in Leeds, UK. The educational charity has also welcomed several new members to its board.

The long-time education provider welcomes Dr Susan Kay-Williams, chief executive of the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) — and fellow of the SDC since 2015 — as its president for the next 12 months.

Susan takes over from the society’s most recent president Chris Carr, Professor of Textile Technology at the University of Leeds and former trustee of the SDC, who focused his time on progressing the charity’s sustainability agenda.

Commenting on her new position, Susan said: “I’m delighted to be taking on the role as president for the society. There are two areas that I’d like to focus on during my 12-month tenure as president. The first is broadening participation within the SDC and the second is reviewing or updating how we introduce colour to schools.

“I’d like to see how we can widen awareness and participation beyond textiles. Many new companies are being formed, especially with an environmental perspective, where colour is key, and it would be great to see them as part of the SDC.”

Susan Kay-Williams has extensive experience in the not-for-profit sector. Having served as the first head of marketing for Girlguiding, Susan also spent part of her career as the chief executive for Garden Organic and has since been the chief executive of the RSN since 2007.

Major commissions during her tenure include hangings for Dover Castle, the wedding dress of the current Princess of Wales, and a dress for the Oscars for Naomie Harris. Susan wrote her first book on colour ‘The Story of Colour in Textiles’ in 2013, her most recent work includes the 150-year history of the RSN in 2022.

Stuart Wilkinson is the SDC’s president-elect, meaning he will serve his time in office in 2025/26. He has served as the chair of the Northern region and Huddersfield region of the SDC in previous years. He is also a member of the Colour Index™ board and has most recently served as a trustee for the SDC as honorary secretary.

On his future presidency, Stuart commented: “As president, I want to encourage young people to join the industry as this is where I believe our future lies. I also intend to embrace other colour-using industries. I have a great interest in history, so I am delighted that the society is creating an archive from all our wonderful collections of dyes, fabrics, photographs, and historic documents, and I hope to encourage people to utilise this resource.”

One new trustee on the society’s board, a new SDC honorary secretary and four new audit committee members have also been appointed for the next three years. The current honorary treasurer was also re-elected unopposed for another three-year term of office.

At a meeting immediately after the board’s AGM, Ian Lewis was elected as chair and Siva Pariti as vice-chair.

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