Birmingham jeweller on mission to ensure African Caribbean culture is celebrated within the industry

  • ITV News Central reporter Lois Swinnerton meets jeweller Norma Banton, on her mission to protect and celebrate African Caribbean culture.

A jeweller from Handsworth, whose parents came to live in Birmingham as part of the Windrush generation 75 years ago, has made it her mission to ensure the African Caribbean culture is protected and celebrated within the industry for years to come.

Norma Banton's mother and father, Nancy Edith Burrell and Dhilleon Mathias Banton, worked in the Jewellery Quarter after arriving in the UK in the 1940s, sharing their skills and craftsmanship as the nation started to rebuild after the Second World War.

Nancy Edith Burrell and Dhilleon Mathias Banton came to Birmingham as part of the Windrush generation Credit: Norma Banton

Seven decades later, their daughter Norma is working to keep their generation’s legacy alive. Speaking to ITV Central, she said: "The Jewellery Quarter was really a hive of activity then there were lots of factories just after the war and they really needed people to bring their skills.

"For me, making jewellery has become part of my heritage, part of my legacy and I'm glad that I'm able to contInue the legacy of my parents right here in the jewellery quarter."

Norma was the first black woman to open a shop in the Jewellery Quarter. Credit: ITV Central

Norma has been making jewellery for 21 years and in 2004 she was the first black woman to open a shop in the Jewellery Quarter.

Each of her designs holds its own meaning, with many celebrating the Windrush generation. She explains: "Everything I make and everything I wear, I think it's really important to me that it means something and it makes a statement without words.

"My Pilgrims from Paradise collection celebrates the Windrush generation and their contribution to British life. I did a series of figures bringing different things on their heads. One for example has a light bulb on her head, which is about the skills and ideas that people brought."

Norma makes jewellery to celebrate the Windrush generation Credit: ITV Central

Norma says historically many of her colleagues have faced racial abuse while working in the industry and now she’s making it her mission to ensure the craft can be open and accessible to all.

She said: "I don't want anyone else to experience that kind of negativity, especially not when they are training."

Norma is part of a team running a training academy in the heart of the jewellery quarter, sharing their skills with the next generation of jewellers.

Masterpiece Academy offers training in the Jewellery Quarter Credit: ITV Central

Masterpiece Academy aims to break down barriers in the trade by ensuring students from diverse and lower income backgrounds have access to training. It offers jewellery training for those aged between 18 and 25 on universal credit.

Norma says: "I wanted to create a safe space where people could train and learn the skill, a place that is diverse and inclusive. and a place that celebrates our heritage."

It's hoped the academy can inspire the next generation of jewellery makers and ensure African Caribbean culture is celebrated in the trade for years to come.

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