Florence Ashworth was born in Preston in 1921, moving to Swinton with her family when she was 12. As a child she loved embroidery and on leaving school she started work in the pattern cutting dept at Tootal, Broadhurst Lee Co, a textile factory in Manchester. She then went on to serve her apprenticeship in the Continuation School at Sunnyside Mill in Bolton, the factory was nicknamed Chesro’s and they made very prestigious dresses. Florence learnt all aspects of dressmaking, pattern making etc.
Florence had 4 daughters and in 1959 due to her husband’s job, the family moved back to Preston. Throughout this time, she continued to sew, making her children’s clothes and eventually she built up her business from home. She made wedding and bridesmaid dresses as well as general dressmaking, drafting patterns to customers’ requirements.
Later she went to College in Chorley to get her teaching certificate which enabled her to teach dressmaking and crafts at Adult Education classes, including teaching handicapped and deaf people.
In 1978 she was introduced to Preston Embroiderers’ Guild, she was a member for over 30 years and held positions of Treasurer and Social Secretary on the Committee which she served for 23 years. Florence loved to teach and pass on her skills but she was also an avid learner, she never tired of learning new techniques and loved her classes at Alston Hall. As soon as the brochure arrived through the post, she would tick off and book her classes including residential weekends.
In the year 2000 at the age of 79, she completed her City and Guilds in Embroidery and Design Parts 1 and 2, despite suffering a stroke. What an inspiration she was!
Over the years, Florence created numerous pictures, wall hangings, bags and all manner of interesting objects too numerous to mention. Her living room was testament to her beautiful creations and everyone who visited was taken aback by her work.
Sadly, she was unable to attend the Guild in recent years due to health problems, but she never lost her enthusiasm and interest in Preston Branch or her love of stitching and textiles
Florence was a great inspiration to me and everyone who knew her, she introduced me to the Guild, and was a personal friend. She was a wonderful teacher, had a great sense of humour and lots of fun to be with. She will be very sadly missed.