Duchess of Cornwall Opens 'Fine Cell Work' Pop-Up at Fortnum & Mason

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The Duchess of Cornwall was guest of honour yesterday at Fortnum & Mason when she opened a special pop-up shop in support of Fine Cell Work.

The Duchess has been a strong supporter of the charity since its inception in 1997. She and Prince Charles were given Fine Cell Work cushions as wedding presents in 2008, and she has bought cushions regularly, one of which included a patchwork Union Jack cushion in vintage fabrics.

On the first floor at Fortnum’s, The Duchess welcomed customers into the space to shop the beautifully curated range of crafted products. Katy Emck, Fine Cell Work’s founding Director, thanked the Duchess for creating this opportunity and thanked Ewan Venters of Fortnum & Mason “for supporting us to sell products handmade in British prisons in one of the greatest British shops.” She went on to explain that “Fine Cell Work has up to 240 prisoners on the books at any one time – the largest group of professional hand stitchers in Europe. They embroider long and hard in their cells for 20 to 40 hours a week.”

The Duchess met with a number of Fine Cell Work staff and supporters, as well as with volunteers who have taught needlework in prison for ten or more years – Caroline Wilkinson, Jacqui Wood, Cherry Conway-Hughes, Louisa Macfarlane and Marjorie Coles. The volunteers were on hand to demonstrate some of the techniques they teach prisoners. The Duchess said she had found needlework very difficult but her mother was a great needleworker. The pop up shop at Fortnum’s includes everything from cushions and bags, to tea cosies and Christmas decorations, with many of the products featuring quirky, irreverent designs. This is the first time FCW has had a select pop-up area in a department store. In the past it has sold mainly through events and its website.

Commenting on the launch of the pop-up shop, Ewan Venters, CEO for Fortnum & Mason, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have The Duchess of Cornwall opening this pop-up, and equally thrilled to be the first retailer to host a dedicated presentation of Fine Cell Work’s beautiful products. Like The Duchess, we’re huge supporters of Fine Cell Work – both as an initiative in and of itself, and in terms of the incredible products that are hand-made in British prisons.”

This prestigious event was covered by the Daily Express and Daily Mail

Victoria Gillies, MD of Fine Cell Work, said: “It is a great honour that The Duchess of Cornwall has given her support to Fine Cell Work by opening the pop-up shop. Everyone associated with this enterprise is immensely proud that our products will be sold in the prestigious environs of Fortnum & Mason who are hosting our pop-up as a generous donation of support. For the prisoners who stitch independently in their cells, or take part in our workshops, knowing that their work is available to buy in this world renowned store gives a sense of achievement and purpose that is invaluable. The simple act of stitching offers innumerable benefits to prisoners, helping them to turn their lives around, establish a connection with society and foster hope for their non-offending future.”

The Fine Cell Work pop-up shop is situated on the first floor at Fortnum & Mason and is open until 27 December 2014.

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