A PEEBLES textile company has been paid a royal visit to commemorate the opening of their new £500,000 weaving shed, which aims to safeguard skills in the region.

Princess Anne, the president of the UK Fashion and Textile Association, was greeted by the sound of bagpipes when she arrived at Holland & Sherry on Wednesday morning.

She was welcomed to the Venlaw Road mill by the Lord Lieutenant of Tweeddale, Professor Sir Hew Strachan, and the mill’s chief operating officer, Frank O’Reilly, before being shown round the company's different departments and meeting their 113 staff.

After a tour of the building, to commemorate the opening of the new shed, the Princess unveiled a plaque, before being presented with a Scottish thistles and flowers by six-year-old Halyrude pupil Emily Thorburn, the daughter of a mill employee.

Addressing the Princess, Frank said: "On behalf of all of us at Holland & Sherry, a big thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to open and celebrate our new weaving shed with us.

"This new facility, combined with our new apprenticeships, provides opportunities for growth and ensures our design and weaving skills are passed on to the next generation."

Lindsay Taylor, global sales director told the Peeblesshire News: “It was an honour and a privilege to have Her Royal Highness visit Holland & Sherry. The visit of the Princess Royal most certainly is a huge motivation to us all that will assist us as we strive and continue the growth of our business within the Scottish Borders and Scottish Textile industry.”

Piper and goods intake operative Graham Connor had the honour of providing the Princess with a Scottish welcome to the town. He said: “It was a proud moment being able to Pipe to the arrival of Princess Anne.”

Robert Stewart, supervisor of the pattern weaving facility said: “I was unsure before she arrived, but she was very down to earth, the visit went well.”

Bunch maker Christine Punton said: “The whole visit was well organised, everyone was very friendly, even the security people. The last time a Royal visited the mill was in the 1940s, it was her Grandfather and Grandmother.”

In 1968 Holland & Sherry bought Scottish cloth merchant, Lowe Donald, based at Peebles, and decided to locate their distribution to the purpose built warehouse there.

Of all the cloth merchants of Golden Square, which were established in the late 1800's, only Holland and Sherry remains.

Currently, the company sells 750,000 metres of cloth each year around the world with a turnover of £56m.

The visit to the Borders was the second made by the Princess Royal in a month, after opening Standhill Farm in Hawick on September 20.