“I’m in shock,” says modest recipient.

Denise Silman has been recognised for her services to the saddlery trade with a Fellowship of the Society of Master Saddlers (SMS).

Fewer than 40 people have been awarded the organisation’s highest honour since the SMS was founded in 1966. 

Denise was presented with her Fellowship by SMS president Karen Schlotter at last month’s National Saddlery Competition. 

Dee Silman (left) receives her Society of Master Saddlers Fellowship from the society’s president Karen Schlotter.

Denise was SMS president in 2010 and has been a member of its executive committee for more than 20 years. 

An active member of the South West region and various sub-committees, she has chaired the modules committee which co-ordinates the society’s CPD events and Walsall visits for members. 

In addition, Denise has been an assessor on SMS saddle fitting courses.

“Reliable and dependable”

“Denise is a ‘behind the scenes’ lady,” says SMS CEO Hazel Morley.

“She’s reliable, dependable and a hard worker. If you want something done quietly and with no fuss, Denise is your girl.”

Indeed, Denise and her husband Ian Silman regularly meet and greet visitors to the SMS stand at events such as the BETA International trade show. 

On receiving her Fellowship, a surprised Denise said: “What an honour, I’m in complete shock.”

Early career

Denise began her career in the early 1980s running her own saddlery shop in Somerset. In 2002, she started saddle fitting full-time, working alongside Ian who is a Master Saddler.

Today, Denise fits saddles part-time and supports the SMS and its members which she describes as “one big, happy family.”