Tom puts heart and soul into new venture

A YOUNG entrepreneur who believes in paying his way in the world has set up a business – restoring old trainers.

Tom Davies became a sole trader after collecting a triple Distinction* in BTEC Business following two years at Priestley College.

Shoe Shine Boy Restoration already has a two-month waiting list and Tom is repairing two pairs of sneakers every week.

He hopes the income will help pay for his time at university as well as fund his own passion for collecting bespoke and fashionable trainers.

“People are sending trainers to me from the top end of Scotland to the far end of Cornwall,” said Tom, who is 19.

“They are in various states including one that had been chewed by a dog, but the challenge for me is to never turn down a pair of trainers that need restoring.”


Some sneakers have sentimental value to their owners while others are just too expensive to part with.

That’s where Tom steps in. People pack off their favourite pair to him so that he can treat their faded colours and damaged souls.

He mixes his own dyes to match the trainers that arrive and has picked up restoration techniques from various sources including YouTube.

“I watched videos on how you restore old leather sofas and just applied it to trainers,” said Tom, who is from Grappenhall.

Tom’s passion for trainers began at football matches when he saw other fans wearing bespoke fashions that were too expensive for him.

He decided to find a job and during his time at Priestley College held down a milk round, part-time work at an accountancy firm and worked as a tyre fitter so that he could afford to buy what he wanted.

Now he has a collection of 30 sets of trainers including a pair it took six months to track down – he eventually found them in Japan.

“I like a pair of trainers with a good story behind them,” said Tom, whose style also has musical influences including Noel Gallagher.


Tom has been nominated for Priestley College’s Student of the Year, the winner of which will be announced at an awards evening in September.

That same month he starts studying International Business Management with American Business Studies at the University of Manchester.

His dream is to set up a workshop in Manchester and have people drop in when their trainers needed treatment.

“One of the reasons I wanted to do this was so that I could pay my way through university, but I hope that maybe one day I will be able to set up a franchise,” said Tom.

For shoe repairs email Tom at and follow him on Instagram @shoeshineboyrestoration

Priestley Alumnus sweeps board at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show

Appleton Thorn landscape architect and Priestley Alumnus Adam White won RHS Gold Medal, the highly coveted RHS Best in Show and the popular RHS People’s Choice Award at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show last week.

Winning the treble is unheard at RHS Flower Shows as the public normally choose a garden for entirely different reasons to the judges.

Along with his design partner Andrée Davies they run a small design practice called Davies White Ltd which specialise in creating children’s nature play spaces and gardens.

Together they designed the Zoflora & Caudwell Children’s Wild Garden which highlighted the beneficial qualities of a therapeutic garden for children with various disabilities, in particular Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

It’s been ten years since they were last at RHS Hampton Court where they also won an RHS Gold Medal and People’s Choice Award for their Playscape Show Garden.

Playful and edible planting, wild grassy mounds, huge trees and tree-top nests, a huge spinning boulder, hidden woodland scent pots, a secret mushroom cave, a ground level trampoline, a giant hollow oak log and opportunities to play and explore along a woodland stream were all on offer. A number of secluded spaces within the garden provided somewhere safe to relax.

The RHS judges were particularly impressed in Adams enthusiasm for the project and his in depth research into ASD. BBC Gardeners World presenter Monty Don said the garden was like no other show garden he had ever seen before and was beautifully designed and constructed.

Following the show, the garden will be reimagined at the Caudwell International Children’s Centre at Keele University, Staffordshire, which provides multi-disciplinary support for children with developmental disorders. Adam and Andrée will again lead the design and oversee its delivery on site.
Landscape Architect Adam White said, “I am passionate about reconnecting children with nature and believe the design process is as important as the end product. We have serious epidemic of nature deficit disorder in the UK and I hope this garden will showcase and raise awareness of how landscape and horticulture can create the perfect antidote.

“The garden was designed to be accessible and inclusive for all children, including those with autism. Wining the treble was the icing on the cake. The project began when I was locked in a glass box for three days and nights in central London to raise awareness of autism. During my time in the glass box I made a scale model of the Wild Garden.
Working with the children as part of the design process was hugely rewarding, and we are now looking forward to seeing them enjoy the wild garden and allowing their imaginations to run wild.”
The garden also has a narrative, beautifully illustrated by artist Josh Knowles and brought to life by Room60 Animation. You can follow the adventures of Hampton the Butterfly as he explores the garden by visiting the Davies White website ( or You Tube Channel.

If you want to follow the life of the Wild Garden as it makes its way to the new Caudwell International Centre for Children simply follow Davies White on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (@davies_white).

Step in the right direction

Joe Pimlott

THEY’VE been with each other every step of the way and now they are moving on to greater things in the world of dance.

Eleven students from Priestley College have defied the odds by all securing places at the UK’s top dance schools – many the equivalent of Oxford and Cambridge to young performers.

Among them is Sophie Burrows who is heading to Stella Mann College and is one of only about a dozen students there to receive a DaDA Scholarship.

The award will pay for her education as she follows in the footsteps of West End performers and various television and film actors at the college of performing arts.

“I’ve been dancing since I was three-years-old so this is a dream come true,” said Sophie, a former pupil at Bridgewater High School.

“What I’ve learnt over the past two years gave me the confidence and versatility as a dancer to get through the auditions and secure this place.”

Another former Bridgewater pupil Joe Pimlott, who combined Dance with Drama and English Literature at Priestley, is going on to study contemporary dance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Dance and Music in London.

He secured a place ahead of dancers from around the world despite an injury that left him unable to perform for several months of his course.

“It was hard watching classes from the sidelines, but it just made me even more determined to do well,” he said.

Danielle Burgess

Most of the class of 2017 cohort caught the dance bug early. Some were just two when their love of movement emerged at various classes around Warrington.

At Priestley they honed their talent and built their confidence in preparation for the gruelling audition process at the colleges.

“First you have to be selected for an audition and then the audition can last eight hours and include solos, singing and a monologue,” said Molly Paterson, who is heading to LIPA, an organisation co-founded by Sir Paul McCartney.

During their time at Priestley the students were often in college for 8am to complete a full day of study, then took part in enrichment groups, before fitting in a meal, after-college performance classes and more theory work.

Their lessons also included circuit training to ensure the stamina required to progress to the next level.

They were left in no doubt about ‘what it takes’ to make it thanks to experiences with Rambert Dance Company, Russell Maliphant and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. They even met renowned choreographer and director Matthew Bourne.

“We’ve all become more versatile dancers at Priestley because we’ve studied everything from African dance to Contemporary,” said Danielle Burgess, who is heading to Kate Simmons Dance School.

“We’ve been pushed really hard and that helped when we got to auditions.”

Priestley’s dancers are going places.

As well as attending many professional shows with Priestley, the dancers have also staged their own performances in venues as diverse as Daresbury Church, a woodland in Grappenhall and Formby beach.

Tutor Rachel Leyland said a combination of the students’ dedication and the opportunities offered at Priestley had given them the best chance of progression.

“They have been a phenomenal year group and have inspired one another in ways I don’t think they even realise,” she said.

“I’m very proud of them and just pleased they’ve all achieved the success they deserve.”

Music technicians broadcast festival via Facebook Live

Priestley students transmitted the Rustic Music and Arts Festival via Facebook live over the weekend.

David Taylor, Tom Wright and Mica-Rose Dubique solved the problem of creating a live feed from a festival venue as well as provided front and back stage support.

They operated cameras, took on vision mixing as well as sound engineering to ensure a high quality production.

The live stream can be re-watched on the festival’s facebook page >


Tom Wright and David Taylor (pictured right)

Sky is the limit for young designer

A STUDENT with an eye for design has been snapped up by an agency that counts Disney, Nike and Warner Brothers among its clients.

Tom Whitehead, who has just completed a Computer Games Design BTEC at Priestley College, was taken on by Southern GFX after helping them complete a project for Sky Television.

“I had planned to take a year out and possibly start my own film and editing business, but this was too great an opportunity to miss,” said Tom, from Palacefields in Runcorn.

“It’s great working in their office, there’s inspiration everywhere.”

Southern GFX is an international business with clients as diverse as the Royal Mint, Sainsbury’s and Lego.

Some of their most eye-catching work is for TV shows including creating gargoyles for Penny Dreadful and zombie-like characters in ITV’s the Frankenstein Chronicles.

Owner Glen Southern described Tom as ‘a perfect fit’ for the company.

“He came to us for work experience and he was so skilled already that we let him help out on a live project for SKY. That alone gave me enough confidence to hire him without hesitation,” he said.

“He’s the second young artist I’ve hired that passed through Priestley College and they come with as much experience as a final year graduate would in some cases.”

Tom, a former pupil at St Chad’s RC Comprehensive School, has been developing his skills for design at Priestley College for the past two years.

He is on course to pick up a triple distinction* when he collects his results this summer, but said his education would not end in college.

“I am always learning and if I don’t know how to do something I look it up and teach myself,” he said.