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After gaining an A Level in Design at school, combined with an inherent interest in making things, Richard McLane enrolled at York College on a BTEC Diploma in Ceramics and Jewellery Design course in the late 1980s.

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Richard had experience in fabrication, joinery and construction from a very early age, and even had a holiday job as a blacksmith, due to his family’s farming background.

Richard described the Ceramics and Jewellery Design course as ‘an all-round education with some notable inspirational tutors’. He was particularly excited that one of his tutors was the son of a well-known and respected architect, and described another of his tutors as ‘talented, helpful and instrumental in getting projects to completion’. Impressed with the variety of the course, Richard added: “You could be making a bronze cast sundial one day and a plaster of Paris cast the day after, followed by a life-drawing class!” He also commented that the mix of students on the course, from teenagers to mature students, provided a ‘stimulating mix’.

The BTEC Diploma doubled up as a foundation Art and Design qualification recognised by universities country-wide as a pre-requisite to doing a degree, meaning Richard gained a place at Newcastle University. He graduated with a first class honours degree in Furniture Design in 1994.

From there, Richard set up Helmsley-based furniture manufacturing company Bisca. Over the past twenty years, the company has grown exponentially and is now leading the market for staircase design and manufacture.

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Richard proudly states: “We serve clients world-wide who believe in investing in the longevity of beautiful commissions. Bisca has built an enviable reputation for creating handcrafted and high quality commissions which will always be a pleasure to look at and withstand the test of time.”

Richard valued studying in his home town of York, enjoying the student buzz and appreciating the beauty of the city.

Keen to give back to the College, Richard is always happy to welcome students with an interest in furniture making to Bisca for an hour-long tour, to see first-hand how the industry works. He added: “In addition to myself and Scott Edison, our Head of Manufacturing, Bisca currently employ two ex-York College students in our workshop and we are always interested to talk to students who are thinking of a career as a craftsman.”

Like Richard, Head of Manufacturing Scott Edison was always tinkering and adjusting things from an early age. Upon completing a National Diploma at York College, Scott progressed onto a BTEC HND in 3D Design. Despite graduating almost 15 years ago, Scott’s ‘inspirational and motivational’ tutors have made a lasting impression on him. Scott was also impressed with the facilities, adding: “The workshops were very well equipped and of a high standard; there was freedom to work with many materials in an environment that fostered creativity.”

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After an Easter work experience session at Bisca with Richard, Scott decided to join the company full-time as a workshop trainee. He said: “They liked me and I liked them and understood what they did, how they did it and why. I was the only one who didn’t complain when I was asked to sweep the workshop floor!” Scott soon progressed to be Site Supervisor, before securing his current role of Head of Manufacturing and Board Director.

As well as offering student tours at Bisca with Richard, Scott has also returned to College in previous years to recruit for workshop candidates. Adding to Richard’s offerings, Scott ensures that Bisca will respond to all CVs sent in to the company, regardless of whether or not they have a current vacancy.

To find out more, visit www.bisca.co.uk

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