Over the years I’ve reported on at least 30 Royal visits to Ayrshire.
Well I’ve been at the Ayrshire Post for 24 years, I’ve just quickly calculated and, blimey, that’s a long time in anyone’s book.
Until fairly recently I’d only attended a visit by Prince Charles to Ayrshire a couple of times but that’s all changed now as he’s such a frequent visitor to our area thanks to his long term commitment to Dumfries House and estate.
What I have discovered during this time is that the Prince works bloomin’ hard and genuinely cares about conservation, preservation, bringing jobs to, and generally revitalising this part of East Ayrshire which is crying out for regeneration since mining jobs were lost for ever. Readers may have seen my report on HRH’s latest visit last week when he officially opened the Prince’s drawing School Dimplex Studio which has its home in the newly refurbished former Laundry of the great house.
It was derelict and had trees growing in it but now looks absolutely fabulous. Before Prince Charles arrived I was allowed to wander through the four art rooms and chat to the graduates of The Prince’s Drawing School, based in Shoreditch, London, who had been asked to test out the studios and be observed producing their various forms of art work inspired by their time on the estate by a party who had jetted in from the US branch of his Prince’s Foundation which I had no idea existed.
We’re talking about such luminaries as Betty Bloomingdale who is just one of many philanthropists who are members. The party of Americans who had come to visit Dumfries House for the opening of the art school also attended a fundraising dinner that evening in the house. There were obviously many influental people in the group and it was very much a private visit to show the progress achieved within the house itself and the estate. Already functioning is a traditional skills workshops at the refurbished sawmill complex, and soon a new hospitality training facility, an education learning centre at the Walled Garden and a new outdoor activity residential centre that will all come online in Spring 2013.
Now many art groups can enjoy this new facility at Dumfries House that has a ground source heat pump heating system which has been supplied by benefactors of the art project Dublin born Martin and his wife Carmel Naughton. He is an engineer/entrepreneur turned generous philanthropist whose roots are still in Ireland and who called Prince Charles a ‘true entrepreneur’ during the opening ceremony. Mr Naughton’s massive global company Glen Dimplex includes such household names as Creda, Morphy Richards and is the world’s largest electrical heating and domestic appliance business.