The Legacy of Industrial Textiles Project (LITE) Launch Event

  Textiles Heritage Project Launched in the West Midlands Lottery The award-winning Community Education Academy of Leadership (CEAL) officially launched the Legacy of Industrial Textiles Enterprise (LITE) Project at Hawthorns House in West Bromwich West Midlands on 6 September last. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the LITE is rare innovation in the textiles industry. It involves chronicling the historic contribution of African, Caribbean and South Asian communities to textiles heritage. The aim is to nurture, preserve and disseminate through oral interviews, collections and publication, aspects of the industry in which ethnic groups participated; both as employers or entrepreneurs and workers.

Among speakers at the launch-event were: Professor Monder Ram OBE of Birmingham University, who spoke of his personal involvement in the industry, during his formative years. “CEAL’s capture of this important history, is a recognition of the value-add minorities have brought to this sector”. Chair of the HLF West Midlands Committee and former BBC presenter, Sue Beardsmore, referred to the ongoing investment by the HLF into successful heritage projects in the West Midlands, emphasising continued support to projects such as the LITE. Raj Sirpal, a former textiles manufacturer, gave a personal account of his involvement in the clothing production trade. He touched on the resilient strategies that were used to counter the negative impact of the economic recession during the 1980s and 1990s and later, that affected textiles manufacturing and other industries, at the time. Chair of CEAL and award-winning author and business management consultant, Dr. Christopher A. Johnson, was Master of Ceremonies (MC) for the occasion. He reiterated the significance of the LET project within the broader context of ethnic communities’ contribution to various textiles industry linkages textiles and their corresponding influence on British economic history.

A Heritage project to capture, interpret, and share the ‘contributions of employees’ to textiles manufacturing heritage over the past 60 years across Birmingham, Sandwell and Wolverhampton.


The launch was introduced by Dr Christopher Adrian Johnson who is an award-winning author and business management consultant. A former Commonwealth Cambridge Press Fellow, he is holder of an MBA IN Marketing Management and a Doctorate in Business Management.

Harminder Kaur Bhogal Ma (Ed) who is Project Manager of CEAL ( She has over 20 years of public service experience and has been managing the organisation since its inception including the redtructure (2010) when it acquired dual legal status ; company limited by guarantee and charity. Forever driven by faith resilience, she is a consummate leader whose work bear recognition of the LITE project launched today.

Professor Monder Ram OBE who joined Birmingham Business School from De Montfort University in September 2013 where he was Professor of Small Business and Director of Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Enterpreneurship and Co-Director of the Enterprise and Diversity Alliance. He was awarded an OBE in the 2004 New Year Honours List for his services.

Raj Sirpal (former textiles employer ) – has been operating an events and venue company since 2006. “I sold my Venue in 2012, to enable me to offer my expertise and total event management at a number of high profile venues”. The National Conference Centre (Motorcycle Museum), Hagley Hall, Ragley Hall ETC. previous to this, Sirpal has been in the clothing manufacturing industry in Birmingham since leaving college in 1978 till 2006

Sue Beardsmore Chair of the West Midlands Committee is a broadcast journalist who worked for the BBC in the Midlands for over 20 years as a reporter and presenter. She worked on daily news and documentaries across the region and her work led to involvement in diverse projects in the community. She developed the public space for the BBC in the midlands , giving the public access to information and exhibits.

 A famous quote by Professor Amartyna Sen which applies to the the connectivity of this project.

To find out more about the LITE project, related events and volunteering opportunities around heritage matters, please contact Community Education Academy of Leadership on 07891479255 or email