Council senior manager quits - to take up basket weaving

stuart philpot

Stuart Philpot will be starting his own basket weaving business. - Credit: Stuart Philpot

A district council manager has quit the nine-to-five to pursue an old passion - for basket weaving.

Stuart Philpot, 56, is a former strategic manager and has decided to set up his own basket-making business called Countryworld Baskets.

He learnt the trade from his father and has decided to return to these roots and pursue it as a business.

Mr Philpot said basket making had been a skill in his family for many years.

stuart philpot

Mr Philpot originally learnt the trade from his father. - Credit: Stuart Philpot

"I left school and joined the family basket making business in 1982, at the time called Wrentham Basketware," Mr Philpot said, "working alongside my father in this very specialist trade. 

"We had a workshop at Fritton Lake, as well as at Wrentham, for over 20 years which sold a huge variety of English baskets, mostly made to order.

"We made traditional willow baskets mainly for the home and attended many exhibitions around the country, including the Burghley Horse Trials, the Royal show, Chelsea Flower Show and Sandringham Horticultural show."

stuart philpot

Stuart stepped down from the family business in 2000 when the market changed. - Credit: Stuart Philpot

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In 2000, the market for basket making changed and Mr Philpot decided to get an office job with the local council at the time, Waveney District Council.

Over the following years he worked his way up to a strategic manager but this year has decided to step down from the role to pursue the re-kindled passion not touched since 2002.

He said: "Like many people, I started working from home when we all went into lockdown and with normal pastimes stopped, found myself with more spare time at home and decided to start making the baskets again in the evenings and weekends from May 2020."
"I ordered some English willow and started it all again.

"I hadn't made a basket for nearly 20 years but the memory of how to make these traditional baskets slowly began to return."

stuart philpot

Mr Philpot makes a large variety of baskets. - Credit: stuart philpot

Mr Philpot makes a range of baskets, everything from laundry baskets to picnic baskets and specialist custom made ones.

Mr Philpot has now been making the baskets since May 2020 and the passion has resulted in his early semi-retirement.

He said: "In many ways, lockdown has been a blessing in disguise for me to help find that old passion again.

"I would say to anyone who has a specialist skill just follow it if you can."

stuart philpot

A range of baskets are for sale. - Credit: Stuart Philpot