Jane Winkworth

A Rather Royal Week January 31st 2012

This week I was invited to lunch at Clarence House by The Prince’s Trust to discuss a brilliant new initiative by the Prince called The Enterprise Fellowship. The idea is to help, support and mentor young adults from the most disadvantaged backgrounds to start new lives and new jobs or careers.

Set up two years ago by the completely amazing Peter Cruddas who has raised millions of pounds already for the Fellowship as well as donating a hefty 4 million pounds of his own money, the Enterprise aims to recruit entrepreneurs and business people who have the time and energy (plus a small financial donation) to really pitch in and get these extremely deserving young people out of lives of crime, drugs and prostitution and into a mainstream working environment.

I arrived at Clarence House for 12.15pm attired entirely head to toe in a wonderful new black Chanel suit and my driver Richard looked smart and dapper and had polished my lovely blue Bentley until it gleamed! The gates of Clarence House opened and we drove to the front entrance where footmen opened my car door and guided me in through the marvellous entrance hall that we all saw after the Royal Wedding, when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge left Clarence House to attend their Wedding party .

I met up with the other guests and members of the Trust’s fund-raising staff in the reception hall which was exquisite in every detail including marvellous columns with bronze busts and an amazing collection of pictures and portraits. The most divine oriental rugs were everywhere and the whole atmosphere was one of complete comfort and style. The colour scheme consisted of dark reds, greens and blue, accessorised with blue and white oriental porcelain everywhere. The footmen all wore the most fabulous dark green velvet knee breeches with gold embellishments and they were all gorgeously handsome! Outside the gardens were immaculate. There were some beautiful mulberry trees and the most amazing huge stone troughs overflowing with delicate purple pansies – absolutely stunning! The lunch was simple but perfect for the occasion. Steak with organic potatoes and vegetables (I think from Highgrove), followed by a delicious chocolate banoffi mousse, cheese and biscuits with grapes and finally a truly delicious cup of coffee with cream.

Although I was the only woman present, with the exception of two of the Prince’s staff, all the men were charming, attentive and polite. I was overwhelmed by their desire to make changes happen for the disadvantaged and to put back into society, not only financially, but with their time and effort. I was amazed at one of the Fellowship members who was deeply emotional about the depravation and misery he had encountered whilst doing some mentoring work with a young woman whose life and background was truly shocking. This level of involvement from men who have made millions of pounds and who could quite easily sail off into the sunset on their yachts and live lives of unimaginable luxury is very impressive indeed and I was very humbled by their stories and experiences.

The Trust has recently merged with another similar charity called Fairbridge who have been helping the most disadvantaged young people to get back on their feet and find new lives. With the two charities now working so well together, it looks as if there will be a rosy future for some of the lucky recipients of this wonderful charity’s help and support. The Enterprise Fellowship are currently able to help only 500 young people each year out of the 3,500 who apply to them and are desperately seeking for more business entrepreneurs to help this amazing and worthwhile cause.

Was it for me? Well I am still considering how I might best help, but there is just one small moral sticking point on which I find I cannot agree with the Fellowship and that is their commitment to helping not only the disadvantaged but also young people involved with crime and drug dealing.
Somewhere deep in my repressed Catholic moral infrastructure, I find myself completely at odds with the idea that drug dealers should be rewarded by the Enterprise Fellowship, for their crimes against young, vulnerable and innocent members of our society.  I have campaigned for many years to increase the length of prison sentences for convicted drug dealers, in fact, today the Government have announced that longer prison sentences are to be mandatory for drug dealers - so hooray for that! Therefore, I may not be getting involved with this otherwise amazing and worthwhile charity - I think I will be concentrating on my arts and ballet charities in the future.

After lunch, I left to go back to my offices in Mayfair and when I arrived at Brook Street found I had just missed HRH Princess Alexandra, who, while I was busy at Clarence House, had been busy shopping in my Brook Street store!

Categories: My Week, Work

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Charities Jane supports:

The Royal ballet school English National Ballet Starlight ACCA The Royal Marsden Havens Hospice