Princess Anne in the Scottish Borders: traditional weaving & disabled riders

The Princess Royal visited the Scottish Borders today, where she carried out a series of engagements from opening a new traditioanl weaving facility, to meeting the ‘longest-serving’ farm worker in Scotland, to the local disabled riding charity.

Her first stop was Holland and Sherry’s new Pattern Weaving Shed in Peebles, visiting in her capacity as President of the UK Fashion and Textile Association. Princess Anne was accompanied by Lord-Lieutenant of Tweeddale, Professor Sir Hew Strachan.

He said: “She’s very supportive of what’s going on here in the Borders and in Scotland. She’s said to me more than once that it’s a delight for her to come here.”

A young apprentice Scott Linton, who is currently being trained in traditional weaving skills for the company that sells 750,000 metres of cloth each year, said that it was his first time meeting Royalty. Mr Linton remarked: “She seemed really normal, really down to earth – not really what I was expecting!”

The company’s Chief Operating Officer Frank O’Reilly, noted how important the new weaving shed is, stating that it will help preserve the tradition of weaving in the Borders for generations to come. “It’s a really special occasion, we haven’t had a royal visit in over 60 years,” he explained. “The new weaving shed will enable us to preserve and pass on the skills in our design and weaving to the next generation.”

After this, The Princess Royal made a stop at Hardiesmill Farm, near Gordon, in her role as president of the Scotch Beef Club.

During the visit, Princess Anne presented a gift to Jake Fairley to commemorate his retirement after 64 years of service, which many believe makes him Scotland’s longest-serving farm employee.

The Princess then showed off her passion for horses as she visited a local riding school, Berwickshire Riding for the Disabled Association. The centre provides children and adults with disabilities and special needs the opportunity to learn to ride. The royal visit marks the association’s 15th anniversary.

Sadly, there haven’t been any other images of Anne’s day.

The Queen’s daughter is the President of the charity and seemed to enjoy watching young riders display their skills. The association was formed in 1982, initially riding outdoors two days a week.

In 2002, the Princess Royal officially opened the Indoor Riding arena facility at Sunnyside, Reston, which allows the group’s members the ability to ride all year round, whatever the weather.

During each lesson, riders and vaulters learn to work in teams and to co-operate with the horses. Staff say that the weekly sessions allow them to see a visible increase in self-esteem and confidence in the riders. The group relies on voluntary donations to maintain the facilities and to help keep the horses healthy.

In an average year, around 45 people, young and old, with a wide range of disabilities learn to ride and vault with the help of the association, 5 horses, and 40 volunteers.

Anne concluded a busy day by attending the Court Autumn Dinner of the Fishmongers’ Company, in her role as their Prime Warden.

The Fishmongers’ Company is one of twelve Great Livery Companies of the City of London, and among the most ancient of guilds. For over 700 years, the company has aimed to uphold high standards in the fishing industry, a role that it continues to play to this day.

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