HER ROYAL HIGHNESS SOPHIE THE COUNTESS OF WESSEX VISITS CHAPMAN BAGS
(Images courtesy of CN Group and Johnny Becker)
We had a very special visitor to the factory on Tuesday, 9th June. HRH Sophie the Countess of Wessex visited Cumbria, taking in Chapman Bags, Hopes Auction Market, Threlkeld Village Hall and the Eden Valley Hospice. The royal visit to Cumbria was superbly organised and prepared for by the office of the Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria, Mrs Claire Hensman.
Needless to say we did make a bit of an effort to tidy up the factory for the visit. This included filling in some holes in the machinists’ floor, replacing some damaged roof tiles, refitting the machine room door (which had been removed to accommodate a new press; thank you Philip!) and placing some strategically located bouquets of flowers!
The visit was preceded by logistical co-ordination worthy of a military campaign with the Lord Lieutenant’s office and much discussion over the correct royal protocols, including a lengthy debate over the requirements for bows and curtsies (note: shakings hands is perfectly acceptable these days) and the correct pronunciation of “Ma’m” (as in “ham”)!
We were also delighted to receive the Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria and her husband, the Mayor and Mayoress of Carlisle, the Deputy Chief Executive of Carlisle City Council and, last but not least, the founder of the Company and his wife John and Margaret Chapman.
Around noon the royal cavalcade arrived at Tannery Road. The CEO was feeling a bit nervous at this stage as he and the civic dignitaries lined up outside the factory to be introduced to HRH. A bow and a handshake later, we moved inside to review the factory shop and discuss the origins of the Company as a fishing and shooting bag business. A fine buffet lunch was provided by the team at Old Hall Cafe, during which John Chapman regaled us with some great stories from the early days.
HRH then toured the factory, meeting all our staff. Some highlights included Giles our factory manager demonstrating the mysterious workings of a leather splitting machine and Philip our cutter showing how to cut multiple canvas panels with a Stanley knife! The visit concluded with the presentation of a Lucy shoulder bag from our Rydal collection, which Carolyn whisked away to pack up before the royal party left for the Eden Valley Hospice.
All in all it was a great day for Chapman Bags and a great day for Cumbria. Thank you to everyone who helped make it happen. We could not have wished for a more gracious, thoughtful and interesting guest and we very much hope that Lucy shows the world a fine example of British made style and craftsmanship!