Wednesday 28 September 2016

Camilla fascinated by dog hair spinner at RVS showcase of older people's skills

Published 27/04/2016 | 13:41

The Duchess of Cornwall meets craftswoman Elizabeth Lee during a visit to the Geffrye Museum in east London (Royal Voluntary Service/PA Wire)
The Duchess of Cornwall meets craftswoman Elizabeth Lee during a visit to the Geffrye Museum in east London (Royal Voluntary Service/PA Wire)

Spinning yarn from wool is a well practised craft but the Duchess of Cornwall has discovered a new material being used - dog hair.

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Camilla was left fascinated when she met craftswoman Elizabeth Lee who is collecting the white hair from her prized Samoyed pets to spin into yarn and make into garments.

The Duchess was shown clumps of the fibres when she met a group of skilled septuagenarians displaying their skills, from wood carving to preserve making, at the launch of the Royal Voluntary Service's (RVS) summer event GrandFest.

The one-day event on June 5 in Spitalfields, east London, will celebrate the craft skills of talented older people and aims to encourage the younger generation to learn from their forebears with master classes staged by the exhibitors.

Mrs Lee, from Monmouthshire, said Camilla was interested to hear about her project and she showed off some of the items she had made from conventional balls of wool.

She added: "The duchess was interested to hear about the fact that I started spinning as I had two Samoyed dogs and when you comb them you get hair off them and it seems such a waste to throw it away.

"We've a caravan in West Wales and I spend a lot of time down there and my daughter encouraged me to learn how to spin (while there) and it went from there."

The Duchess has been president of the RVS for four years and the organisation is hoping GrandFest, now in its second year, will be bigger than the inaugural event with classes covering everything from crochet to bread making and basket weaving.

The RVS is one of the biggest volunteer organisations in the country, supporting more than 100,000 older people each month with its services like meals-on-wheels and books-on-wheels that help alleviate loneliness and help older people.

Actress Patricia Routledge, who is an ambassador for the organisation, gave a speech and told the guests: "They are keeping us living longer, but they don't know what to do with us - but we know what to do."

Among the audience invited to the launch, staged at the Geffrye Museum in Hoxton, east London, was dancer Wayne Sleep.

The 68-year-old celebrity is a supporter of the RVS and hopes to perform a short routine at GrandFest.

He said about the event: "This thing is about being able to pass their crafts on. These are people who are in their 70s and they've got skills that could die when they go - so I think it's very important to give back and teach the younger generation.

"For the older people it's great for them to get out and get some exercise by working with the young, keeps the mind alert and the blood pumping."

Press Association

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