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Alderman Michael Mainelli with Ian Angus

Ian Angus Mackenzie – who chairs Harris Tweed Hebrides – has received a Silver Medal from a UK industry body for his vital work in the Harris Tweed industry.

Ian Mackenzie was presented with the top award, the Silver Medal, at the prestigious Worshipful Company of Weavers Textile Awards this week.

The award was presented by The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Michael Mainelli, at an event at the Saddler’s Hall in London yesterday (Tuesday 20 February).

The Silver Medal is awarded in recognition of an individual’s contribution to the UK weaving industry in the field of technology, management, education, or the craft of weaving. Previous recipients of the award include Luskentyre Harris Tweed weaver Donald John Mackay; and John Griffith who designed and built the double width handweaving loom, a pivotal project in the history of the industry which Ian was closely associated with throughout the 1990’s.

Ian Mackenzie has worked in the Harris Tweed® industry for 50 years starting as a home weaver, then as the Chief Executive of the Harris Tweed Authority, prior to the formation of Harris Tweed Hebrides when he became the company’s first Chief Executive, followed by his current role as Chairman.

Harris Tweed Hebrides was founded in 2007 by Ian Mackenzie, Ian Taylor and Brian Wilson following the near-collapse of the Harris Tweed industry.

Together with a team of skilled island-based textile professionals, Ian reopened the derelict mill in the village of Shawbost on the west side of Lewis and built a global business which currently employs over 70 islanders, while providing home-weaving to over 100 self-employed weavers who live and work across the islands of Lewis and Harris.

The company is widely credited with the revitalisation of the Harris Tweed industry, which remains a vital component of the local economy of the Outer Hebrides.

Ian is proud of the stabilising impact Harris Tweed Hebrides has had. “Before we started, every Harris Tweed story had been negative for years. After Harris Tweed Hebrides was formed, every story was positive”. 

Acknowledging this prestigious award, Ian paid tribute to others from across the local community, “I’m delighted to accept this award on behalf of our island industry and all those who have worked with me over these past 50 years”. 

The Worshipful Company of Weavers is one of London’s 111 Livery Companies and is said to be the oldest with records dating back to the year 1130. From their beginnings in the medieval period, livery companies have comprised of London’s ancient and modern trade associations and guilds. Today the Weavers’ Company continues to support the textiles industry through educational grants and training for young people looking to join the industry.