Lady Edwina Grosvenor has been back to school to share her passion for prison reform and rehabilitation.
The second daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Westminster visited her alma mater Ellesmere College on Wednesday, February 25, to talk to sixth form pupils. At the same time, her husband Dan Snow was talking history at The King’s School in Chester.
The mum-of-two said: “It was lovely to be back at the school and to speak to a few familiar faces. The pupils asked a number of good questions and I feel like I can relate to them as a former pupil but also offer them my outside knowledge, especially about government commissions and restorative justice”.
The former sixth former, who attended Ellesmere from 1998 to 2000, following earlier schooling at the now defunct Mostyn House in Neston, talked to students about the work she does to create opportunities for prisoners in the hospitality industry.
A trustee of The Clink Charity, she is the driving force behind a chain of quality restaurants in prisons – called The Clink – that give inmates a chance to learn how to cook, serve and perform front-of-house duties.
The first, in HMP High Down in Surrey, opened in 2009. Another followed in Cardiff Prison and a third opening, at HMP Brixton. Ambassadors for the project include chefs Giorgio Locatelli, Jamie Oliver and Antonio Carluccio.
She explained: “Eighty-five prisoners have been, or are being, trained in The Clink restaurants, and 25 have gone into full-time employment in the hospitality business following their release. It barely dents the current 88,000 jail population, but I get a real buzz when I visit the restaurants. Everyone said the plan wouldn’t work and it has.”
As the daughter of the UK’s seventh richest man, Edwina has experienced a life of wealth and privilege but draws comparisons between the haves and the have-nots.
She said: “I see a lot of common ground between the public’s misconceptions of criminals and of the aristocracy.
“The general public put labels on us both and make sweeping generalisations that are quite wrong. There are some very damaged aristocrats who battle with addictions. People who have masses of money can go very wrong. They just hide it better or have efficient PR machines.”
Edwina’s brother Hugh and sister Viola also attended Ellesmere College.
Director of External Relations Nick Pettingale said: “It was a great privilege to have Edwina back at school to talk to and inspire our pupils. She has accomplished so much in her life, especially within prison reform, and it was interesting to hear how she has been involved in restorative justice sessions, as a member of government commissions.”