HISTORY OF THE SOCIETY

The Society of shoe fitters was created from those dedicated one-man shoe fitting specialists within the ranks of the National Shoe Retailers Council.

The NSRC was the influential association of independent shoe retailers which embraced every type and class of shoe retailing in the British Isles. Those dedicated shoe fitters amongst the membership had urged from time to time, the universal adoption of higher standards of shoe fitting as a condition of membership. This could not be sustained or carried out by all members, and would have split the strength and weakened the representation of the NSRC as the mouthpiece for the independent section of the Trade with its manufacturers, the public and the Government.

It was therefore after considerable debate within the Council that a sub-committee should look into the possibility of creating a Society of Shoe Fitters.

From the NSRC’s Annual Report – received at the Annual Convention held at Bath in March of l957, the following was adopted: “That the NSRC shall explore the possibilities of establishing a British Society of Shoe Fitters or encourage formation of such a Society”.

A sub committee under the Chairmanship of W.A.E. Shore (Bath), the President, H. Leslie Mitchell (Sunderland ), W. Chris Jones (Tenby), F. H. George (Woodford) and F.M. Smart (Bedworth) were appointed to produce a blue-print for such a formation. Subsequently the pilot scheme came before the Council, and on the proposal of F.H. George (Woodford), seconded by G.P. Walter (Folkestone) it was that the Society of Shoe Fitters be formed.

In the Annual Report presented at the convention at Harrogate in March 1958, sufficient information had been built up by the sub-committee to enable it to proceed with applications for Founder Membership, which would consist of submitting a paper on the scientific application and the ethics and practice of shoe fitting. All members originally were invited to participate. Those whose papers were considered of a sufficiently high standard were awarded a Certificate of Founder Membership dated 1st June l959 under the first Presidency of F. H. George of Woodford.

The National Chamber of Trade under its General Secretary J. W. Stevenson, had been most co-operative and sympathetic to the work of the NSRC in making its headquarters – Enterprise House at 3 Hyde Park Gate, London – available to the NSRC as its headquarters – its buildings available for meetings, and its Deputy Secretary J.B. Pegnall to be both the enthusiastic Secretary of the NSRC and the new Society of Shoe Fitters.

In 1986 Anne Beacham was appointed as Secretary. Anne worked for the shoe multiple Milward’s for many years. Anne’s resignation from the Society in l989 was unfortunately due to ill-health. From 1989 the secretariat then passed to Laura West, (previously of Start-rite Shoes) until her resignation at the end of 2004. The Society reins were then handed over to the B.F.A. (British Footwear Association) overseen by Niall Campbell and Caroline Bean, until May 2006 when the B.F.A. decided they were no longer able to administer the Society affairs. At this point Laura West was asked to return as secretariat.

The Society of Shoe Fitters, under early dedicated members has continued to give a lead to the maintenance and the raising of the highest standard of shoe fitting, by the continuity of enthusiastic members at a time of great need when there is a national deterioration of standards generally. It is just as well, as there is an ever appreciative need for those services from the public.

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