Prince meets green-fingered volunteers

The Earl of Wessex is presented with an Irish Yew tree, to mark his visit to Florence Court, by Ms Heather McLachlan, Regional Director, National Trust.
The Earl of Wessex is presented with an Irish Yew tree, to mark his visit to Florence Court, by Ms Heather McLachlan, Regional Director, National Trust.

The National Trust was delighted to welcome Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex to Florence Court, Enniskillen where he met with volunteers, staff and supporters of the conservation charity.

The Earl of Wessex was greeted by Heather McLachlan, Regional Director for the National Trust NI and Jim Chestnutt, General Manager for Florence Court before enjoying an introduction to the mansion, followed by a tour of the Kitchen Garden which is currently undergoing restoration.

“We were privileged to welcome Prince Edward to Florence Court today,’ said Heather McLachlan.

“This is a very exciting time for the property as the project to restore the Kitchen Garden to its 1930s character and atmosphere escalates.

“From small beginnings in 2009 led by a team of property volunteers, this 2-acre garden which had been neglected and overgrown for 60 years is now on the cusp of a significant revival, restoring its heritage, reconnecting it with people and its past, and offering fresh and meaningful experiences for people and communities to get more involved.

“This ambitious project wouldn’t be possible without the support of our dedicated team of volunteers.

“I’m delighted that today the Earl joined us in paying tribute to them for their hard work and dedication to establishing Florence Court’s Kitchen Garden as a vibrant and sustainable garden at the heart of the local community.”

Heather Hamilton, Florence Court’s longest serving tour guide who has been welcoming visitors here for over 27 years, gave the Prince an introduction to the house, before the official signing of the visitor book.

Prince Edward then visited the Walled Garden for a walking tour of its Kitchen Garden with lead Gardener David Corscadden.

Along the way the Prince had the opportunity to meet with a number of green-fingered volunteers who dedicate their time to restoring and maintaining this working garden.

Jim Chestnutt said: “This heritage project aims to connect more people with the outdoors through restoring the 2-acre Kitchen Garden to its 1930s character. The £612k project involves the construction of two glasshouses on the historic footprint of the original structures demolished in the 1970s and the restoration of the garden’s planting features.

“We hope to launch the delivery stage of the project in collaboration with our partners soon.

“It is thanks to the hard work of our volunteers, who support the small team of staff dedicated to looking after this sustainable estate and gardens, that over 45,000 visitors a year can come and enjoy the history and heritage of Florence Court today.

“We simply couldn’t take care of all that we look after in Fermanagh without the help of volunteers and supporters from the local community, so I am delighted to see them recognised by Prince Edward here today.”