Shelia Fleet, who has a 50-strong staff at her eponymous Orkney-based business, won the award for her services to the industry in a 44-year career.
Having run her own business since 1993, Shelia described the award as “the icing on the cake” of her long career. “I was extremely surprised and delighted of course. It was very unexpected,” she said. “I’m very proud to think that someone took the time to nominate me for such a thing and I can’t think who would have done it.
Shelia has expanded her business in Orkney, a set of islands off the north coast of Scotland, and said it was “fantastic” to have been able to work from her home in the place that she grew up. “Lots of tourists come to visit the archaeology and history of the island and that helps us gain interest and custom from around the world,” she added.
The 67-year-old designer left school at 15 with only a passion for art and design and, using this, she gained entry to Edinburgh Art School.
Winning a number of awards for her jewellery design, she later went on to work with Corocraft – one of the world’s largest costume jewellery companies – for eight years before returning to her home island of Orkney in 1977.
Shelia said the award would have made her father even more proud of her achievements – just as he was when she was accepted into Edinburgh Art College.
“I would love my parents – my father especially – to have known I was awarded this because he was always so proud of anything I managed to achieve [having] left school at 15.
“The letter I received the day I got into Edinburgh Art College put the same kind of smile on my face – a warm glow that stayed for a whole day. But this honour might last a bit longer!”