Celebrating Purdey Women

Celebrating Purdey Women

Purdey is made by its people, the artisans and experts that have kept us at the top of our game for the last 210 years. Though the gunmaking industry is predominantly powered by men – indeed Purdey has a long legacy of great men at the helm, from our founder to those at the forefront of innovation in the factory – there are significant women at the heart of our enterprise too. 

“Gunmaking is an industry that’s invariably filled with men,” confirms Macie Gray, Apprentice Gunmaker in the Purdey factory. “When I first started, it was very difficult, because there was definitely a preconceived idea that a gunmaker is an old man who works out of his shed – I’ve met people who have told me my apron belongs in the kitchen, or asked me what my real job is. But at Purdey I'm really lucky because I work with some of the nicest people in the world. Nobody is judgemental; there's no preconceived ideas around me because I’m a woman. In this industry, it’s just what we need.” 

Over in clothing and accessories, Lavinia Beaumont set the standard, opening the first Purdey boutique in London in the 1970s. The small shop full of exquisite tweeds quickly gained prestige, as 84 Mount Street became a destination for those seeking the best sporting attire. Today, Marianne Vidoni is one of the product developers driving innovation forward in this department, specialising in knitwear. “I love the knitwear we have coming up for AW24, but in the meantime I have my eye on our current Field Coat in Loden,” she says, on her favourite pieces. “I enjoy following the creative process of a product, to see it come alive. And working with the fantastic, very skilled, professional creative team and suppliers.” 

Heading up Services & Sustainability, Dee Kennedy-Merrett has been at Purdey for 18 years and counting. “When I joined there were only a handful of women, but it’s really good to see even more women working at Purdey now,” she says. “Since I started in 2006 my role has developed a lot and become quite diverse. I love working on building refurbishment projects – the Audley House refurbishment in 2021 was one of the highlights of my time at Purdey, one which I will treasure.”

The conservation of countryside habitat has long been a focus for Purdey – as demonstrated by the Purdey Awards – and Kennedy-Merrett is responsible for developing this sustainable mindset across the whole business. “Our carbon footprint reporting is now becoming a bigger task, and is growing year on year,” she continues. “We’re continuing to engage more with our suppliers too, it’s important they are part of our long-term journey and align with our goals.”

Another project that Kennedy-Merrett is heavily involved in is the annual Purdey tree planting initiative, which places our environmental responsibility front and centre. Launched in 2022 to give back to the landscape that we value so much, a tree is planted for every Purdey gun sold (plus a few more for good measure), celebrating the walnut wood used in our gunmaking, as well as extra varieties that support the habitat in the area surrounding Purdey at the Royal Berkshire.  

“Our sustainability journey has been both challenging and exciting,” says Kennedy-Merrett, who sources the trees from a beautiful farm in Kent. The suppliers lead the planting and once the trees are in, it’s over to the Purdey grounds team. “The tree planting has been well received by our clients and staff,” she continues. “I am looking forward to the planting of this year’s trees this month, and watching the numbers grow each year. But, most of all, seeing the ever changing landscape at Purdey at the Royal Berkshire.” 

Macie, Marianne and Dee are just three of the women who are shaping the future of Purdey, from the gunmaking workshop, to the design studio, to Audley House, the Shooting School and beyond. It's a team worth celebrating.