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Wool Project gets Royal touch

27
Jan '10
The Prince of Wales turned his attention to fashion today when he launched a campaign to increase demand for wool.

He wants the fashion, carpet and insulation industries to work together to promote the benefits of the material through the Wool Project.

The Prince of Wales, a long-time supporter of upland hill farmers, called a meeting at Clarence House last February to address concerns about the prices offered for sheep fleeces.

Today he told a gathering of designers and retailers at Wimpole Home Farm, a National Trust property in Cambridgeshire, that a plan is in place to make wool fashionable again and to encourage people to choose British and Commonwealth wool over manmade alternatives.

Wool growing organisations from the UK, Australia and New Zealand and companies including Marks & Spencer will tell the public about the advantages of the natural fibre in a consumer campaign starting in the autumn, and a special wool week will take place in September.

The Prince described wool as "extraordinary" with the capacity to retain warmth even when wet, but warned the future of the fibre is looking "bleak".

He said: "The sad truth is that around the world farmers are leaving sheep production, because the price they get for their wool is below the costs of actually shearing it."

The average price per kilo of wool in 1997 was 97p, compared with 68p last year.

The Prince called for wool to be championed because of its sustainability, qualities which make it a "better product" such as being fire-retardant, and because sheep farmers are the "life blood of the rural economy".

"In short they keep the countryside alive, not just in this country but in many parts of the world.

"I've tried to set out for you the impacts of the seemingly trivial decision about whether to buy a wool carpet or its manmade alternative, or the decision to buy a wool coat as opposed to a polyester jacket.

"The idea... is to explain the benefits of wool to the customer in a simple and creative way, so that they appreciate the impact of the decisions they make."

Wool Project chairman John Thorley said: "Wool is a sustainable, natural product - the production of which involves far lower carbon emissions than manmade fibres.

"It is perfect for domestic use as a natural insulator and is naturally fire retardant.

"We are delighted that The Prince of Wales has helped bring us all together to communicate its many benefits to the public, and help improve the market for sheep farmers across the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth."

The Prince of Wales


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