The Duchess of Cornwall joined senior citizens today sampling and learning heritage craft skills at the Geffrye Museum in Hoxton. Her visit was to help launch GrandFest – a festival where the older generation will teach younger generations these craft skills like weaving, knitting, artisan bread-making and crocheting.
The Duchess is President of the Royal Voluntary Service which is sponsoring the second GrandFest. This one-day festival is scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 5th in Spitalfields.
During the day, Camilla met three of the craftsmen who will showcase their skills. She sampled lemon curd prepared by 75-year-old Rae Wilson from Stirlingshire; tried her hand at basket weaving with the help of 72-year-old Betty Grace and observed how 75-year-old Elizabeth Lee spins wool from her Samoyed dog Zoe’s fur. The Duchess learned how it takes three hours to spin a single ounce of wool and that it takes 30 hours to create a jumper.
Her Royal Highness was quite interested in what Mrs. Lee was doing: “What a lovely thing to do. I would love to learn that,” she commented.
The oldest participant at the festival, 76-year-old, Clive Lillow, makes bread. “There’s no machinery involved, the only machine is the oven,” he told the Duchess.
He then showed her a picture of his great great grandmother who baked bread until she was 100. The Duchess laughed before saying: “There’s hope for us all.”
Later, Clive told the Hackney Gazette: “I’m quite taken with her. It’s the first time I’ve ever met any royalty, it was very pleasant.”
Chief executive of the RVS, David McCullough had this to say after the reception: “We wanted to promote the message that although all these crafts are trendy and of hipsters in Hoxton are doing all sorts of crocheting and knitting, actually they didn’t invent it.”
He clarified why this festival is so important: “These skills have been around for a fair while, and so we wanted to just demonstrate that our older generation are full of fantastic transferable skills. It may now be called ‘artisan bread making’ but most of us think of it as bread making, and those are skills we think should be shared with generations, helping that sense of connection but also demonstrating that our older generation add tremendous value to society.”
Actress Patricia Routledge is both a friend of the Duchess and Ambassador of RVS. She said: “I keep saying they are keeping us alive for longer and they don’t know what to do with us, but we know exactly what to do with ourselves and long may it last.”