Duchess of Kent - Yorkshires favourite royal
PUBLISHED: 14:38 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:14 20 February 2013
Most of us know her as Yorkshire's favourite royal, but to her pupils she's just 'Miss'. Jo Haywood talks to the Duchess of Kent about her passion for music and why she feels most at home in Hull
You wouldn't immediately think that the Duchess of Kent had much in common with Simon Cowell, but she does. She doesn't share his passion for unfortunate trousers or for making small children cry on national television, but she does share his passion for discovering extraordinary musical talent in the most ordinary places.
She founded a charity, Future Talent, in 2004 with the aim of giving every child an equal opportunity to make the most of their potential and excel in music. She was inspired to launch the project after working for more than a decade as a music teacher in Wansbeck School, Hull.
'I knew that what my children were experiencing in Hull was reflected right across the country,' she explained over coffee at McConnell Thomas, an eco-chic general store and caf just yards from her ancestral home in Hovingham, North Yorkshire.
'Music was not a priority in their lives. They had very little aspiration and very little self belief. There were no natural stepping stones for them if they showed any musical talent.'
Five years on, Future Talent is providing stepping stones for children in four areas of the UK - East Yorkshire, East London, Oxfordshire and Manchester - after building up a network of teachers and mentors in each of these hot spots to encourage, teach and advise young people with musical talent. It's fair to say, however, that Future Talent North Stars, which includes Wansbeck, Longhill and The Parks primary schools in Hull, is closest to her heart.
'The whole project started with one boy at Wansbeck,' she said. 'He doesn't know he was the inspiration, but he was. He was so talented and I just couldn't stand to see it go to waste. I wanted to help him find his way in music and that grew into Future Talent.'
The children at Wansbeck have no idea that their music teacher, Mrs Kent, is a member of the royal family. They just think she's 'a nice lady who sounds a bit posh'.