Your Majesty, Your Royal Highnesses, First Minister, Advocate General, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to welcome you to Dumfries House for the opening of this Walled Garden, almost three years after my Trust began the enormous task of clearing the vastly overgrown site. I can hardly believe what has been achieved since then, thanks to the sustained effort and determination of all of you who have worked here.
My Trust has been immensely fortunate to have such committed and generous support ever since the House was saved in 2007. It would be almost impossible for me to name all our wonderful supporters, but I should like to give my particular thanks to those individuals and public bodies who, seven years ago, came together to save this wonderful House and its unique contents for the Nation without you we wouldn't be standing here today.
As anyone who saw this garden before work started will know, the challenge posed in restoring the site has been considerable. It's always nice to have statistics, so, since 2011, the project has required 47,000 handmade bricks, 37,000 concrete blocks, 9, 500 tonnes of hardcore for paths, 5,000 tonnes of soil, 1 mile of coping stones and 4 miles of vine wire...
Therefore, Ladies and Gentlemen, you might agree that we have been more than a little fortunate to have had such generous support from a number of incredibly kind people. They include Hans and Eva Rausing, whose early donation meant we were able to start by restoring the walls which were in need of substantial repair; Julia Irene Kauffman, whose generosity allowed us to develop a marvellous Education Garden at the far end of this formal garden; and Clarissa and Jurgen Pierburg, whose support enabled my Trust to build an Education Centre in the Education Garden, which has already welcomed almost 5,000 primary school children to learn about food, farming and how to cook.
For the creation of this formal garden I am enormously grateful to my Trust’s long-standing benefactor and Trustee David Brownlow, who has most generously supported not only this project, but many others across the Dumfries House estate.
Finally, I must thank the mighty army of volunteers, without whom this project would never have been possible. In 2011 over two hundred members of the local community - led by one or two people who normally wear chains (so it gave a whole new meaning to the term "chain-gang"!) - spent two days clearing an overgrown wilderness of rubbish and debris to reveal the bare canvas of this place. My Trust was then able to engage the inspirational garden designer, Michael Innes, and architect, Keith Ross, who worked with the lead contractor, Sam Templeton, on the extraordinary engineering challenges presented by this garden. I am so grateful to everyone who has worked on the garden and who has ensured this project's completion, on time. And I am particularly pleased that this project has been a hub for demonstrating and developing traditional craft skills such as specialised stonework, bricklaying, leadworks, iron works and horticulture.
It was always my intention that in saving Dumfries House we should open the House and its estate to the public for the community to share and enjoy. As well as being a visitor attraction, I very much hope that the garden will be a source of continuing enjoyment and pride for the local community, which has done so much to support this House and estate. So it gives me enormous pleasure to see so many special people gathered here today to witness Her Majesty open the Queen Elizabeth Garden.