At last. I've read a story in the Daily Telegraph which uplifts my spirit, and brings me unalloyed pleasure. The National Trust is in discussions with the family of the great fashion designer, Laura Ashley about restoring her family home for the pleasure of future generations, and to promote an understanding of what gave her inspiration. The Victorian property, Rhydoldog House in Rhayadr was where Laura and Bernard Ashley moved to, when they left their flat in Pimlico for Mid Wales in the 1960s. By the mid-1980s, the Laura Ashley business empire was dominating the fashion capitals of the world, when in 1985 Laura died as a result of a tragic accident. Sir Bernard died earlier this year. They are both buried in the Montgomeryshire village of Carno.
Laura and Bernard Ashley made a great contribution to the economy and the international awareness of my part of Mid Wales. Those of us involved in public affairs through the amazing Laura Ashley story understand the impact that she had. Its a major part of any historical appreciation of twentieth century Wales. I want future generations to share in this understanding. It would be wonderful news for Wales, and for Mid Wales in particular, if her home could be restored as a public monument to what inspired a whole generation of fashion, and to the impact it all had on a despairing economy. I hope that a deal is done and my little granddaughter, Ffion, whose maternal grandparents have strong family connections with the Ashley 'empire', will one day be able to walk around Rhydoldog House. Perhaps she will be able to sense the inspiration that once made rural Mid Wales the centre of world fashion.