Last night Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden hosted The Prince’s Regeneration Trust’s Gala Dinner in the beautiful Painted Hall of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. Deborah has been an ambassador of the leading regeneration charity for many years.
Deborah spoke about how her interest in heritage-led regeneration was sparked when she bought the cloth-making business Fox Brothers in 2009. Fox Brothers still operates in its conserved 1772 premises, and this has become integral to the brand.
The evening included a silent auction (online) and a live auction conducted by Prince’s Regeneration Trust ambassador Griff Rhys Jones – a long-standing champion of place making and the civic movement.
There were some highly-sought after lots in the auction, with two VIP tickets for Adele’s sold out concert at the O2, as well as a Salvador Dalí lithograph.
Among the guests at the dinner were finalists, judges and the winner Matthew Wilcock of the BBC’s The Great Pottery Throw Down, filmed at The Prince’s Regeneration Trust’s Middleport Pottery. The Throw Down guests had also contributed lots, including a personal family tour of judge Kate Malone's studios.
During the evening guests heard from Gary Brown, the leader of Brymbo Heritage Group, which The Prince’s Regeneration Trust is partnering through its mentoring programme. The Group is working to transform Brymbo’s former steelworks in Wrexham, north Wales, into a visitor attraction, learning and commercial hub. Guests also heard from Chris Callear who completed a construction apprenticeship at Middleport Pottery. Chris has worked on the conservation of projects undertaken by the Trust at Middleport Pottery and the Wedgwood Institute in Stoke-on-Trent.
Chief Executive Ros Kerslake looked with the success of the evening. She arrived at the dinner fresh from receiving her OBE for services to heritage at Buckingham Palace that morning, having been named in the New Year’s honours list earlier this year.
Ros said: ‘It’s wonderful to have an evening like this to share with supporters and partners. We really wanted people to take home a strong sense of why saving and repurposing heritage is so important for our towns, cities and villages. I think that hearing through the words of Deborah Meaden and Griff Rhys-Jones and the testimony of Gary and Chris people have been really inspired to get involved. I can’t tell you how delighted I am.’