Opportunity for young people of Norfolk thanks to Norfolk’s Queen of Furniture

PUBLISHED: 06:00 30 November 2019

Mandi Cleyndert Photo: Ben Jackson, School House Digital.

Mandi Cleyndert Photo: Ben Jackson, School House Digital.


Mandi Cleyndert is the Managing Director of Bill Cleyndert & Company, a leading British manufacturer of bespoke furniture, cabinetry and specialist joinery. They have a workshop in North Norfolk and one in Norwich. They support the next generation of skilled craftsmen, running an in-house apprenticeship programme and working with local schools. Mandi is married to photographer and video producer Ben Jackson and they live in Swanton Morley with their boys Joe and Tom. Mandi talks to Gina Long.

Mandi passionately believes in apprenticeships Photo: Ben Jackson, School House Digital.Mandi passionately believes in apprenticeships Photo: Ben Jackson, School House Digital.

What is your connection to East Anglia?

My great grandparents lived in Burnham Overy and my father spent school holidays there. We moved when I was young and my dad set up as a furniture maker in Fakenham. I left to go to University and returned a decade later to join the family business after living and working in London.

What is your East Anglian Heaven ie what do you love most about East Anglia?

Mandi Cleyndert and her family Photo: Ben Jackson, School House Digital.Mandi Cleyndert and her family Photo: Ben Jackson, School House Digital.

The beaches, swimming in the River Wensum, and running in the peace and quiet.

Norfolk is gentle and beautiful and I like the mix of people - a little bit lawless but very loyal. And Norwich is a fantastic city for just mooching around on a Saturday afternoon.

What is your East Anglian Hell ie what you hate most about living here?

The A47, caravans and slow drivers!

What's your favourite East Anglian restaurant?

Benedicts in Norwich is lovely, The Honningham Buck and the Elsing Mermaid for Sunday lunch.

What's your favourite way to spend an East Anglian evening?

In my local pub Darby's with friends and family.

What's your favourite East Anglian landmark?

The hedgerows and big open skies as you near the coast in North Norfolk. Early morning cycling is the best way to appreciate them.

What's the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?

Our work's summer party. It's turned into a bit of a mini festival. We had a fallow year this year which means the pressure is on for next year to make up for it!

What is your specialist Mastermind subject?

The film Grease 2. It's not something I'm proud of.

What is always in your fridge?

Leftovers - my husband Ben is an excellent cook but we always make too much at my insistence. We are a greedy household.

What's your simple philosophy of life?

You reap what you sow.

What's your favourite film?

It's a tight call between Ferris Buellers Day Off and Withnail & I.

What was your first job?

Making and selling my own jewellery at Craft Fairs aged 12. I was deadly serious about it with sales charts and accounts books! My parents had to cart me to craft fairs each weekend for months.

What is your most treasured possession?

Photos taken by my husband and an Owl statue which my son Joe bought from a charity shop for Mother's Day last year.

Who do you admire most?

The unsung heroes in our community - those who volunteer. Plus people with a natural talent for music and languages as I wish had both. One day I will learn German and to play piano.

What is your biggest indulgence?

My 1960 Austin Seven Mini called Pig.

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What do you like about yourself most?

I'm an optimist with a lot of energy.

What's your worst character trait?

Impatience and poor self-discipline. I don't do moderation very well.

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

Camping in France, close to water. We camped as kids a lot and I want my children to do the same. I love that the only decision I have to make is whether to have beer or rosé with lunch.

Best day of your life?

It would always involve Ben, my boys Joe and Tom, live music, cider and sunshine!

What's your favourite breakfast?

A big fry up - not made by me.

What's your favourite tipple?

Adnam's dry hopped lager.

What's your hidden talent?

A pretty good photographic memory.

When were you most embarrassed?

Getting caught playing kiss chase by my Headmaster Mr Stapleford in Junior School. I was Nature Monitor and should have been looking after the hamsters.

What's your earliest memory?

Cutting the top of my finger off in a door, courtesy of my younger sister who slammed it shut.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Bennie and The Jets by Elton John - I'm not worried as long as it's really loud!

Tell us something people don't know about you?

I have an obsession with house plants and stationery. It runs in the family. My mother is a world class propagator.

What's the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?

'I'm disappointed'. I hate letting anyone down.

Tell us why you live here and nowhere else?

I want to live somewhere that values community and where my children can enjoy being just children. I really love our village.

What do you want to tell our readers about most?

We produce some amazing bespoke work in our Norfolk Workshops, as do many local companies and Artisans we work with. Our business and success is built on the talent and skill of our team. It's vital that National and Local Government support technical education, apprenticeships and career awareness. The construction, manufacturing and craft industries will be in real trouble 20 years from now if we don't. We run our own in-house apprenticeship program and it's fantastic to see some really talented young men and women coming through.

Follow Gina Long @geewizzgee1.

To be considered for being featured in Gina's Q & A Email: gina@

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