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We were delighted to receive a special visitor, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, to our workshop on Wednesday 5 September 2018.
On Wednesday 5 September 2018 The Princess Royal spent over an hour chatting with our weavers and watching demonstrations on our looms. She also looked at our handwoven designs, including classics from the archives such as Shaggy Dog, Mended Tweed, and Tweed Emphasize.
Encouraging heritage craft industries, and keeping jobs alive within small scale manufacturing, is a subject of huge importance for The Princess Royal. Over the last three decades, she has been President of the UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT) and is a keen supporter of fashion and textile products made in the United Kingdom. During her tenure with UKFT, she has visited around 100 hundred factories around the UK. While talking with her about our history and production techniques, her vast knowledge and genuine interest in textiles was very clear.
Just as Mourne Textiles draws from the past to inspire our current processes and products, so there is a historical connection for The Princess Royal's family at our workshop. During her visit, The Princess Royal browsed through old press clippings from 1963, when her late aunt Princess Margaret (Queen Elizabeth II's sister) visited Mourne Textiles with her husband Lord Snowdon.
At the time, Gerd Hay-Edie, Mourne Textiles’ founder, gave the couple a tour of the workshop and welcomed them into her neighbouring home. Afterwards, Lord Snowdon described Gerd as "the best designer in Northern Ireland!"
At the end of her visit we presented The Princess Royal with a gift of a handwoven tweed blanket and two children's blankets for her grandchildren. She was then warmly waved off by children from Killowen Primary School.
A number of industry representatives were in attendance at the event, including Paul Alger, Director of International Business for UKFT; Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland; Alec McQuin from the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST); and Alison Currie from InterTradeIreland as well as local councillors. Huge thanks for all their support.