“Absolutely amazing and an experience I’ll never forget” – that was the excited reaction from young Earlston textile designer, Heather Sinclair, who was one of a select few to be invited to join the Queen and other members of the Royal family at the special diamond jubilee lunch in Westminster Hall on Tuesday.
Heather, 21, is a former pupil at Earlston High School and the daughter of local milliner, Karen Reid, and Lilliesleaf chef, Robert Sinclair.
She has just completed her honours degree course in textile design at Heriot-Watt University’s campus in Galashiels and it was her third year’s work with colour that won Heather a special award from the Worshipful Company of Dyers.
This is one of the London liveries which invited a total of 700 guests, representing the companies’ abundant trades and professions, and ranged from grocers and gunmakers to fruiterers and fishmongers.
As well as the monarch, the event was also attended by the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
Heather, who was accompanied to London by her fiancée, Ryan Lumsden, and her fellow VIP lunchers, sat down to a mouth-watering menu of marinated Uist salmon with Lyme Bay crab, saddle of Welsh Cambrian lamb with braised shoulder of lamb, grilled Isle of Wight asparagus, Jersey royal potatoes and jubilee sauce.
This was all followed by a ‘symphony’ of dessert, comprising chocolate délice, bread and butter pudding and a berry compote with Sandringham apple sauce.
Interestingly, one of the beveridges available afterwards was Celyon tea, which came from a bush planted by the Duke of Edinburgh during a state visit to Sri Lanka in 1954.
Speaking just an hour after the lunch ended, Heather told us: “I received an email at the end of April from my tutor which just said: ‘lunch with the Queen’. I was a bit taken aback and it emerged that the invitation had come from the Company of Dyers and I was one of 10 people on its table at the lunch.
“I had received a special prize from them for my use of colour and dyed fabric in my third year’s work, which was wonderful.
“Then to be invited to travel to London for such an event as lunch with the Queen as well was just incredible.
“Our table was the one diagonally opposite the one the Queen was sitting at. My parents were really thrilled I got to attend – my mum’s already been texting and asking all about it.”
Prior to the lunch, Heather and Ryan had a tour of Dyers’ Hall, before her party were collected and transported to Westminster Hall. Unfortunately, partners were not invited, so poor Ryan had to eat his lunch solo in a nearby restaurant. “Yeah, he is a bit jealous I got to have lunch with the Queen!” Heather joked.
And this month is turning into quite something for the young designer, who graduates from university next week, and then will travel back to London at the end of the month to take part in an exhibition of work by new designers.
“June is amazing for me. So much is happening, it’s really busy. I haven’t made any progress on the jobs situation yet because things have just been so hectic at the moment – June’s turning out to be pretty full on.”