The new Master Cutler has urged Sheffield not to undervalue itself after his city-based technical education helped him become a self-made man.
Ken Cooke was installed as the 379th Master in a ceremony at the opulent Cutlers’ Hall on Church Street.
In a speech to the Lord Lieutenant, High Sheriff, mayors and hundreds of members, freemen, friends and guests, he said he had to pinch himself to make sure the “great honour” was real.
Mr Cooke is boss of CTW Hardfacing, a successful Neepsend machinery repair company.
He said: “As a young boy in the east end of Sheffield kicking a football against a wall, of course in my blue and white shirt, I could never have dreamed of being here following in the footsteps of our city’s major industrialists such as the Firths, the Browns and the Wards and I have to pinch myself to make sure it is real.
“Looking back, I feel I was very fortunate to be educated at a local engineering-based technical school. This grounding encouraged me to take every opportunity available, to listen and learn from all walks of life, never to look backwards, to never give in and have faith in my abilities - and here I am.
“Sheffield is my city and we shouldn’t undervalue it.”
The Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire in the County of York was incorporated in 1624 and is 393 years old.
After the installation, top-hatted members of the company walked in procession to Sheffield Cathedral for a service. They returned to the hall for lunch.
Mr Cooke grew up in Attercliffe and was educated at the Central Technical School. He went on to study at Granville College.
He served his apprenticeship with Edward Pryor & Sons in Sheffield. Aged 22, he joined with two partners to form their own engineering and welding company. Over the years he bought them out and acquired other businesses and today CTW works with firms around the world.
He added: “I am a great believer in education, training and apprenticeships so they will be close to the top of my agenda. In manufacturing and industry there should be a place for everyone to develop.”