Hugh Edward's passion for Moorcroft pottery began as a law student. Having built a collection of 612 pieces spanning 88 years of Moorcroft history dating from 1897, he helped give the old art pottery a new lease of life when he stepped in to save it from the brink of insolvency in 1986. To enable him to do this, every piece in his collection had to be sold. During the first five years of Hugh's stewardship, W Moorcroft Ltd was jointly controlled by Hugh and business partner, Richard Dennis. Turnover trebled through the introduction of new designs and the number of Moorcroft employees increased from 17 to 31. Under Hugh's leadership, Moorcroft has increased its turnover to almost £6 million and now, more than 100 years after its inception, employs a skilled workforce of 132.
He started his career as a solicitor, reading Law at the University College in London before joining International Law firm, Richards Butler in 1966. He was made an Equity Partner, before being appointed Head of the Commercial Property Group and later Head of Corporate and Commercial Group. He was also elected to the partnership board but retired in 1997 to devote his time to Moorcroft.
From his career in law, he secured discipline of thought and experience in commercial and business matters – all of which became invaluable in his dealings with Moorcroft. His artistic instincts have been realised in his profound understanding and knowledge of design and an ability to write articles and books – to date he has authored three books and a fourth is in progress.
Hugh has consistently dedicated a part of his life to public service; in 1998 he was appointed a Trustee of the Low Pay Unit, a major influence in the introduction of the National Minimum Wage and the Working Families Tax Credit, before being made Chair of the Low Pay Unit in 1999. He admits to feeling elated when former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, telephoned to say that the Queen had signed the legislation which brought in the National Minimum Wage.
Between 1999 and 2004, Hugh was Director of a Government task force, the North Staffordshire Partnership, to establish replacement industries for coal and steel as a regional regeneration project for North Staffordshire. Also, in 2000, Hugh founded and chaired The Burslem Regeneration Company.
Now Hugh lives in Essex with his wife Maureen, with whom he has four children; Richard, Catherine, Karen, and Debbie. He remains Chair of Moorcroft, but has handed over the reins to the next generation.
The award of Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University is bestowed upon Hugh in recognition of his contribution to the ceramic industry through Moorcroft and the role he played in helping to introduce the minimum pay legislation onto the statute book.