This is one of the first occasions where we have managed to get the Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans and British all together and singing from the same woollen hymn sheet.

I can’t tell you how much pleasure it gives me to join you because I must confess one of the things I have always wanted to do in life is to close an exhibition! So this has given me the ideal opportunity to join you for this particular occasion.

I feel awful that you have come back for an extra day to allow me to look around.  I am thrilled to hear from John that it has been such a success. One of the things that has given me particular encouragement is that people have at last begun to discover, particularly through this sort of demonstration, what wool can do and what a versatile material it is, which I think people had forgotten. Of course nowadays what can be done with all sorts of new techniques is remarkable in terms of the different types of material you can produce. Looking for instance at the borders around the curtains in one of the rooms you’d think it was satin but in fact it is wool.

The other thing I’ve heard going round is that all sorts of people visiting the exhibition couldn’t get over what it feels like to walk on woollen carpets again. The frightening thing is that people have forgotten that. So if this exhibition has helped just to remind people of the importance of wool and the effect that re-introducing wool to all sorts of interior furnishings has further down the line for the farmers and those actually involved in producing the priceless animal that comes up with this material, then I could not be more thrilled. It is this virtuous circle that I am trying to encourage.

I must say I always feel rather anxious about bleeting on with about this issue, but I really am trying to ram home the point!

I am hugely grateful to John Thorley who has been remarkable for the last three years in helping to promote wool and its importance. I am even more grateful to Nicholas Coleridge for his astonishing efforts and enthusiasm in this area and also for all his contacts which I think have helped to make some things like this exhibition possible. So I cannot thank you both enough.

The other quite exciting thing is to notice that this is one of the first occasions where we have managed to get the Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans and British all together and singing from the same woollen hymn sheet. That is an enormous achievement because it is only through this kind of integrated and sensible cooperation that we have a real chance of reminding people of all these different connections.

I am equally thrilled that our American friends are here this evening, having come to Highgrove last year I thought I had put them off! But it is hugely encouraging that in America they will stage a version of this exhibition. I hope therefore that it will also be shown in other countries to first of all remind people about wool but also just what remarkable designers, makers, knitters, weavers and tailors we have. Many of them, of course, hidden away in interesting rural corners of this country.

I did just want to congratulate Arabella McNie for her remarkable vision, and for finding people to come and show us what remarkable things they are doing. For instance the armchairs made of cardigans, which I thought were a brilliant idea and wonderful cushions and goodness knows what else. My warmest possible appreciation goes to all the designers who have put so much effort into their rooms. Also thanks to Bridgette Kelly who has worked tirelessly with the Campaign for Wool to pull the whole thing together. The fact that 15,000 people have been through the doors and have had such a positive reaction is another hugely encouraging feature in this whole initiative.

So thank you Ladies and Gentlemen, very much indeed, for taking part and giving up your precious time, demonstrating the “Best of British” in so many different ways and enabling us to remind people of the huge value that wool has.