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Students design shoes for the Duchess of Cambridge

Six excited students of the renowned Footwear Design degree at De Montfort University (DMU) are holding their breath, waiting to hear which of them will be making shoes for Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.

Next week when she visits DMU campus in Leicester with Her Majesty The Queen to mark the beginning of the Diamond Jubilee Tour of the UK (8 March), the Duchess will meet all six students and announce her favourite design.

The lucky winner will then make up a pair of the shoes for the Duchess, and see the shoes they have designed and created worn by the future Queen of England - a flying start to their dream career.

DMU’s Footwear Design degree has already won the praise of shoe guru Jimmy Choo who received an honorary doctorate from the university and has given a masterclass to students.

The students designing shoes for the Duchess, who were shortlisted by the lecturers at DMU from more than 100 applications, are:

•    Sam Sawkill, 27, from Leicester

•    Summer Spencer, 23, from Leicester

•    Kay Yeng Cheng, 22, from Hinckley, Leicestershire

•    Tabitha Duffield, from Maidstone, Kent

•    Becka Hunt, 20, from Peterborough

•    Mei Chun Lai, 21, from Taiwan

Professor Dominic Shellard, vice-chancellor of De Montfort University, said: “What a huge honour and magnificent opportunity this will be for the winning student.

“When asked who their first commission was for at their first job interview, they will be able to reply: 'The Duchess of Cambridge, the world’s leading fashion icon'.

“Opportunities like this are exactly what our students can expect when they come to DMU, a university which is becoming known worldwide for its quality and distinctiveness.”

Head of DMU’s Footwear Degree, Kevin Guildford, said: “We are thrilled. It’s the most fabulous opportunity for the students who couldn’t hope for a bigger fashion icon to endorse their designs. Whoever wins is bound to be starting a brilliant career.”

Sam said: “I wanted to make a cool and sexy shoe for a formal occasion and it’s fantastic to have been shortlisted but it would be great to be selected over all as it would get me recognised as a designer.”

Summer’s shoes are inspired by Kate and Prince William’s coat of arms, with tartan reflecting the couple’s time at university in Scotland. Summer said: “I wanted to reflect Kate’s personality in my design and make it relate to her. My family are so proud and excited for me!”

Kay, who attended John Cleveland College in Hinckley, Leicestershire, before she came to DMU, said: “It is so exciting to be given the opportunity to design for the Duchess. It makes my family very proud to know I am involved in something like this and as a future designer it’s a really good start.”

Tabitha, whose design uses daisies and pink leather, said: “Being chosen would mean the world to me – what an exciting prospect to have such a prominent fashion figure and admired idol wearing my design!”

Becka – who was born in Peterborough and educated at Matley Primary School and Sawtry Community College – said: “I am so honoured and excited to be given such an amazing opportunity. My design is inspired by 19th century fashions and based around the things Kate wears, her engagement ring and her style.”

Mei called her design ‘Dragon Year’. She said: “The concept comes from this being the year of the dragon and its shape is inspired by a lantern. I wanted to show my culture and background through my design. I didn’t expect to get this far. It’s such a great honour to be selected for the final six!”

Speaking about the Royal Visit Professor Shellard said: “Our university is most honoured to have been chosen to mark the start of The Queen’s tour of the United Kingdom to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee year. We are immensely proud that Her Majesty is to be accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge.

“The excitement and anticipation felt around our campus since this visit was announced is a measure of the great affection our students and staff have for The Queen. This special celebration will be history in the making, not just for De Montfort University, but for the people of Leicester, and I have no doubt memories of this occasion will be cherished, for years to come, by everyone who witnesses it.

“The fact that the world’s media will be watching has not been lost on us and this will give DMU a chance to share with everyone our passion, commitment and a spirit of innovation which has earned us a reputation for being a university of quality and distinctiveness.

“I look forward to everyone who attends turning our campus into a sea of red, white and blue in honour of Her Majesty. God save The Queen!”

Social media users will be able to follow events leading up to the visit and activities on the day using the Twitter hashtag #royalDMU or through the official DMU Facebook page.

More information about the royal visit is available at

 In July DMU is running a comprehensive four day Footwear Design and Making course for industry professionals who work in merchandising, buying, sales, designer and development roles.

Posted on: Monday 05 March 2012

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