For more than 20 years, esteemed U.K. luthier Pete Howlett has been building world-class ukes, often generating lengthy customer waiting lists in the process. When he began, he made an “open declaration” that he would retire from building once he hit 1,000 instruments. Sadly, Howlett was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which has put the fulfillment of his quest in jeopardy. (He’s completed 676 ukes so far, leaving him 324 from his goal.) He had planned to finish the remaining 300 or so over the next decade, but his diagnosis has forced him to significantly accelerate his timeline.
Not long ago, the BBC went to visit him at his shop in the North of Wales (where he also runs the International Ukulele Building School). Take a look at the BBC’s touching, inspirational video, and get to know a little more about Howlett and his life’s work.