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Ex-Royal Milliner Strengthens Ties Between Hampshire School And Care Home

A former society milliner whose clients included Queen Elizabeth was guest of honour as she judged a hat competition involving young children in the New Forest.

Pupils aged up to seven in the pre-prep department of Walhampton School in Lymington paraded a series of creations at an end-of-term garden fete under the expert gaze of Louisa McIntyre.

The ex-proprietor of a Lymington High Street shop and fabric label, Louisa travelled to the school from her care home in the town, Colten Care’s Belmore Lodge.

Elegant in her own hat, she enjoyed the pupils’ parade and awarded prizes including a special commendation for Henry Cole, who had taken part despite breaking his collar bone the day before.

Louisa, who has lived at Belmore Lodge for the past two years, said: “I had a fabulous time seeing all these young people being so creative.”

The invitation to judge the competition reflects Louisa’s career standing as a top haute couture milliner.

She trained with Mayfair-based Danish designer Aage Thaarp, known for the hats he created for Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.

When she moved to Belmore Lodge in 2022, Louisa brought with her a scrapbook of pictures and press photos featuring hats she made for Queen Elizabeth.

The book took pride of place in a display the home staged in honour of the Queen after her death in September that year.

The visit was the latest in a series of contacts between the independent school and Belmore Lodge.

Walhampton pupils’ Chapel Choir recently sang in the Belmore Lodge garden along with residents from there and another Lymington care home, Court Lodge.

The show, led by Colten Care’s Music & Arts Partner Fiona Pritchard, included Any Dream Will Do from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat, a musical that the school staged this year.

Also performing was 96-year-old ex-professional opera singer Dorrie Smith, who now lives at Colten Care’s dedicated dementia care home Fernhill in Longham, Dorset.

Dorrie, who in her youth sang on the BBC’s Listen With Mother programme and was a regular guest of the BBC Orchestra, told Fernhill carers of her wish to sing with a choir again so they arranged for her to take part in the Belmore Lodge event.

Dorrie said afterwards: “I had a very lovely time, it brought back lots of memories.”

Belmore Lodge Companionship Team Leader Sharon Semple said: “We had such a warm welcome from Walhampton school when we attended their fete.

“That visit and their choir’s performance in our garden a couple of weeks before were both lovely experiences for all involved.”