HRH The Princess Royal Visits Skyeskyns and Waternish
HRH The Princess Royal has today (Thursday) visited Skyeskyns, manufacturers and suppliers of finest quality sheepskins, and helped them celebrate their 30th Anniversary year by recognising members of the local community who have contributed to the 5 Star Visitor Attraction’s success.
Her Royal Highness was offered a guided tour of the tannery and showroom by Jess Hartwell, whose family own and run Skyeskyns, and was given the chance to meet staff as well as members of the Waternish community at a small reception. The Princess Royal was also introduced to representatives from businesses who work alongside Skyeskyns, supplying them with luxury products for the showroom – Johnstons of Elgin, Hebridean Woolhouse and Devonia Tannery and Sheepskins. Before departing to visit other parts of the island, HRH was presented with a Skye sheepskin as a memento and, finally, unveiled a plaque to commemorate her visit.
The visit highlighted Skyeskyns’ position as the only remaining commercial sheepskin tannery in Scotland, unique in using the most traditional methods to make the world-famous Highland hand-combed natural fleece. The business employs a number of local people and retains its close links to the Skye crofting community. When Clive and Lydia Hartwell founded the tannery in 1983, sheepskins on Skye were considered to be a waste product, but Skyeskyns saw the potential to make the industry more sustainable, transforming these fleeces into part of the range of luxury products now retailed from Skye across the world.
Jess Hartwell, the daughter of the founders, said in her welcome speech:
“It’s been a great honour for us to welcome Her Royal Highness today and to showcase not just Skyeskyns itself but all the local support and links that make up the ‘extended family’ of this family business. Her visit has given us a truly memorable 30th anniversary year and we are very grateful.
This has been a very hard few months for us with the loss of my father, Clive, who founded Skyeskyns. But he was so proud of the royal visit we were due to receive, and as we move now from one generation to the next, we continue to uphold the core values he instilled in the business: craftsmanship, outstanding customer service and pride in telling the story of leather, one of the most ancient skills, passed down through generations over time.
We look forward to the next 30 years for Skyeskyns, and our continued relationship with the Waternish and wider Skye community who help to sustain it, and we thank HRH The Princess Royal for helping us celebrate the start of the next part of our journey.”
In return, HRH The Princess Royal said:
“It is a real pleasure to see a business – which is such a family business – take such pride in what it produces. It’s the quality of the product which has made the success, and the network and the support of the community is equally an integral part of it. Businesses like these do make such a difference to attracting people’s attention to what is going on here.
“It’s really nice to see the quality of work in a product which sadly had become seen as waste. It isn’t. This is a really good quality product which a lot of people would hanker after, and you have the ability to find it here.
“For businesses like this [the internet] can make a real difference, and I hope that will be part of being able to build your success. I mean we’re not looking 30 years down the line, we’re looking a lot further than that. So my best wishes for the future and my congratulations on what you’ve achieved here – it’s a pleasure to see.”