Sir Richard Fitzherbert of Tissington Hall, Derbyshire: Approached to be a Wife Swap Participart

PUBLISHED: 12:59 29 April 2010 | UPDATED: 14:51 20 February 2013



For the third year running I have been approached by the Channel 4 television programme Wife Swap to be a participant on the show.

For the third year running I have been approached by the Channel 4 television programme Wife Swap to be a participant on the show. This year, however, they are looking at the format in a different perspective with, I quote, 'The series revolving around the idea that two families swap mums for a week to experience life in another house and to teach this house something new.

We are very keen to find a family who live in a stately home.We are interested to explore the issues surrounding living in such a home - whether it's an expensive burden and outsiders don't realise the hardship and difficulty living in and upkeeping such a place, or whether it really is real life prince and princesses.' Once again I have given the request some consideration and, once again, that decision has meant the letter has gone in the bin! Three years ago I was charged with chairing the S Anselms Foundation, the charitable vehicle of the prep school in Bakewell.

The aim was that we, as a Board, should start to persuade parents, pupils and staff alike to contribute to a Fund that would mean that the school could undertake specific projects that had been 'earmarked' by the school.The first objective was to raise over half a million pounds to upgrade the swimming pool into a modern indoor complex with accompanying common-rooms and facilities.

I am pleased to say that we have achieved our aim and the first day of construction was the day after the end of term in July. However, it is essential that we do not rest on our laurels and that we persuade successive parents to contribute to the Foundation. As well as reaching our Splash Fund target, the Board has overseen the establishment of a Bursary Fund that sees its first recipient starting at the school this month. Fund-raising can be an arduous task but it is always satisfying when appeals come to fruition. This spring I welcomed two groups of 20 well-heeled Americans to Tissington as part of the Sir John Soane Association trip to the Peak District. Their schedule here involved a tutored walk around the village, a full introduction to the Hall and a three-course dinner in the Dining Room, complete with all the silver. After dinner they entertained themselves with a small 'review', suitably well prepared, in the library.

I know that they enjoyed themselves but I had forgotten all about their visit until I received a letter from Keith B. Irvine, one of their number. In it, apart from thanking me for the event and stating that '80 per cent of the group had voted Tissington as top of the pops' was a request that Keith might be buried in a 'quiet English churchyard' with the desire that he wanted 'the worms to eat me'. Keith has also suggested that he might make a donation to the village if his request was granted. I have put the matter in the Vicar's hands and I await his deliberations.

The end of the academic school year at Prep schools sees the leaving fifth formers amuse themselves on various excursions around and about the country. Not only were Scotland, Rievaulx Abbey and Alton Towers on our school's agenda but also a trip to the Test Match against the West Indies at OldTrafford, Manchester. Included at the last minute on account of my availability, I endured the speedy travel of the S Anselms' minibus in the company of 20 excited boys and their teacher! As a result of some pretty passive cricket, it occurred to me that there had been more action on our trip to the ground than throughout the whole day's play.

I also took with me the memory that the supermarket at Stockport has now been re-christened the 'Jack Mitchell' Sainsburys. The price of lead has shot up recently on the markets in London. News reaches me from my pals in the Square Mile that the price per ton is now $3,000 rather than the $500 paid four years ago. Quite an increase I am sure you will agree, so it came as no surprise when I discovered that the church at Brailsford had been denuded of this valuable commodity overnight in the summer. The church is rather 'out on a limb' as it is situated well outside the confines of the village so it was an obvious target for these thieves. However, we must all be aware that these rogues will stop at nothing and we now have our own 'Church Watch' in the village.

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