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Aspiring fashion designer starts UEL course aged 71

PUBLISHED: 12:00 07 October 2017

Bernadette Taylor

Bernadette Taylor

Daniel Blackman

An aspiring fashion designer is aiming for the catwalk, despite being 71 years old.

Bernadette Taylor, from Stepney, is “raring to go” on her fashion design degree course at the University of East London (UEL).

Despite being thrown out of her sewing class at school for being “useless”, Bernadette has over 50 years of informal design experience behind her.

She started by designing bespoke clothes for her daughter.

She said: “I just couldn’t afford to dress her in the things I wanted, so I decided I would design and make them myself.”

With design as a hobby, Bernadette embarked on a varied career upon leaving school at 16.

She did accountancy work in many London banks, worked in local government and finished her career working as a nursing assistant.

It was in this final career that Bernadette formed close relationships with cancer patients and one of her fashion aspirations was born.

Bernadette said: “My dream is to complete my degree with a fashion show where people with cancer are the models and stars for the day.

“That would make me happy.”

Bernadette first enrolled on UEL’s New Beginnings, a 12-week course which prepares people who have been out of education for a long time for entry onto degree level courses.

Despite “chickening out” the first time round, Bernadette decided to try again when she saw the course advertised for a second time.

“I went along this time, did the course, passed, and now I’m ready and raring to go,” she said.

Bernadette counts American designer and fashion icon Iris Apfel, who is 96, as one of her inspirations.

Her two children, a chef and a lawyer, are both “immensely proud of her”.

Bernadette is under no illusions about the intensity of the course however she said she has all the motivation she needs to succeed.

She added: “I’m looking forward to learning more about my passion.

“I know it is three years, but the thought of those people who live with cancer, and the chance to do something special for them, will keep me going.”

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