Alan Winlow's philosophy exemplifies his creativity in life and his thinking

An occasional series of portraits of Creative Coquetdale Folk by Katie Scott
Alan Winlow has been honoured at several levels. Picture by Katie ScottAlan Winlow has been honoured at several levels. Picture by Katie Scott
Alan Winlow has been honoured at several levels. Picture by Katie Scott

Alan Winlow has been honoured at many levels for his achievements in industry, education, and the environment.

One award, from the Lindbergh Foundation, says: ’The human future depends on our ability to combine the knowledge of science with the wisdom of wildness’. Alan’s life exemplifies this philosophy.

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Born in 1940, at Thrunton Brickworks, Alan attended The Dukes School in Alnwick. He followed in his father’s footsteps in working with bricks. He was keen to learn every aspect of the production process from the quarry, to the distribution of the product, to managing people.

One of Alan Winlow's medals.One of Alan Winlow's medals.
One of Alan Winlow's medals.

His studies at University and College included modules on geology. “If I have learned one thing in this life is if you are going to study, make sure you study something you are keen on”. Alan’s learning and, later his work, have taken him all over the UK and abroad. He tells me “I was responsible for 27 years for processing raw materials from above a seam over 300 million years old, that stretches from the Urals in the East right out into America. The Aegiranum marine band; it has a wonderful spectrum of colours”.

Alan has a great capacity for seeing new ways of working and adapting these to other areas. His engineering skills allowed him to develop ground-breaking methods for producing energy, in the form of landfill gas, from domestic waste. More recently he has been working on creating hydro-electricity.

Alan retired in 2000 and found a new interest in willow growing and basket making. Securing a European grant, Alan organised basket making classes at Hepple Village Hall. The grant was used to buy willow to grow and a plot to grow it in, as well as to research into the history of local baskets. The classes have been so successful that basket makers from all over Europe, New Zealand and the UK regularly come to visit and work with the group.

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Alan is creative not only in his practical life, but also in his thinking. Awarded the position of Life President of The UK Deming Forum in 2007, he has recently been awarded the prestigious 2019 Deming Medal by the American Society for Quality. (As only 17 have been awarded since the mid 1990s, this is significant). His contribution has been in the improvement of quality in organisations, local communities and the environment.

Alan is currently improving our environment in Coquetdale by planting 100s of trees.

Find out more about basket making with Alan and the rest of the group at