The Princess Royal left Flimby with a spring in her step on Thursday having received her own pair of custom-made trainers at the New Balance factory.
The Princess, who arrived via helicopter, visited the West Cumbria-based facility to learn more about how New Balance manufactures their products. As president of the UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKTF), Princess Anne visited as part of their Let’s Make It Here initiative, celebrating Britain’s rich and longstanding manufacturing heritage.
New Balance employs 273 people at its Flimby site and is the second-largest manufacturer of footwear in the UK. The factory makes more than 12,000 pairs of shoes each week.
“Made in Britain is significantly important to our survival, with consumers buying the craftsmanship as well as the materials,” said Andy Okolowicz, New Balance’s factory manager.
“We are particularly proud to have the immense privilege of welcoming Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to our factory here in Flimby. The royal visit stands as a special moment for all of us.”
The Princess Royal was shown various aspects in the process of creating trainers, from the early planning stages of designing a shoe through the factory’s high-tech production methods. For example, she was shown how symmetrical lines are marked out using lasers on neoprene.
The Princess Royal honoured some of the longest-serving New Balance Flimby employees by presenting them with awards. Before departing, she was given special “HRH” trainers by Okolowicz.
“It is fantastic for HRH The Princess Royal to see the good work a global brand like New Balance is doing in West Cumbria, where it has been committed to locally-producing high-quality shoes in the UK since 1982,” said UKFT’s CEO, Adam Mansell.
“Now more than ever we need to invest in UK manufacturing and ensure we create the right environment and pipeline of new talent for the industry to thrive for many years to come.”
Over the years, Princess Anne has been a strong supporter of UK-made fashion and textile products. She has visited more than 100 manufacturers across the United Kingdom during her tenure as UKFT’s president, ranging from handbag companies to kilt manufacturers, and more.
The Duchess of Cambridge also holds a keen interest in textiles as patron of the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was announced this week that the Duchess would further her knowledge in the coming months, “exploring her interest in the use and manufacture of textiles.”