The Campaign for Wool

I have to admit that the Campaign for Wool has only gradually impinged on me. I was first aware of things happening when I saw an appeal in the NFU countryside magazine “Sign up and save British wool”. This petition is aimed at getting 10,000 signatures calling on the 2012 organisers to showcase British wool by using it in the carpets and upholstery in the athletes’ village. It is a reminder of a similar campaign many years ago for the Qantas airline to use wool carpeting because of its fire-retardant qualities (and benefit to wool producers!).

Although there has been a slight rise in wool prices over the last 12 months it seems largely due to declining flock numbers as sheep farmers turn to other, more profitable areas of farming. On Romney Marsh cattle are becoming a more common sight, for instance. The fact is that wool is a wonderful, natural product but is no longer valued by any of us, as it should be.

The next reminder of the Campaign came in a small press item illustrated by guardsmen in their wonderful red wool tunics, with the announcement that A.W. Hainsworth & Sons who produce the uniforms are diversifying into woollen coffins. Wouldn’t Queen Elizabeth 1 have been pleased with the news!

Bradford based Curtis wools has invested £1 million in equipment to keep pace with demand while Laxtons Specialist Yarns invested a similar amount this year in the first spinning mill to open in the U.K. for more than thirty years. The article credits the Campaign for Wool with all this success.

So what is the Campaign for Wool? It is a cross industry initiative convened by HRH the Prince of Wales in January. The Prince believes that “the natural, sustainable origin and highly technical structure of wool can offer fashion, interiors and the built industry many benefits.” Choosing real wool, as the Prince understands will also help to care for the planet. The Campaign ‘partners’ mirror the importance of this initiative in supporting sheep farming across the world. The International Wool Textile Organization, founded by Britain and France in 1924, hosted a seminar for architects in New Zealand this year to draw attention to the use of wool in
both domestic and commercial building projects as well as for carpets, bedding etc. The next major meeting will be held in Hangzhou, China in 2011 with the title “Sustainability – Guaranteed by Wool”. Back in the U.K the campaign really got started in October when a flock of yellow sheep appeared outside Selfridges and Savile row was closed for a day while Exmoor Horn sheep grazed on specially laid turf between the rows of shops. If you watch Countryfile you will know that Adam Henson is having a suit tailored from rare breed wool. Perhaps if wool were to become more expensive we would all be buying it again to spin as a luxury fibre!

To sign the NFU petition visit http://www.countrysideonline.co.uk/wool-petition