A man who spent most of his life helping deprived communities in India is to attend the King’s Coronation after training as a stonemason in Scotland.  

Student Sourabh Phadke, 38, learned traditional building skills at The Prince’s Foundation’s HQ at Dumfries House,Ayrshire, where he now works as a tutor.  

Prior to coming to the UK, Mr Phadke lived a semi-nomadic life in his native country helping construct schools, toilet blocks and other buildings. 

The nature of his work meant he spent many years moving from place to place and living where he was needed. “I basically lived where I was working,” he said.  

“I moved from place to place. The circumstances would differ widely but in some cases we would reach a place and start building, let’s say a toilet in open land where there was no toilet, and we would camp outdoors. It taught me a lot. 

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“It could be houses, toilets, schools, anything that a community needed,” he said. “It could be in deprived communities, schools, farmers, or women’s collectives.” 

Having originally trained as an architect, Mr Phadke made the decision to change direction after thinking about possible future careers.  

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He said: “I found it disgusting the way education is preparing us not for joy or satisfaction but turning us into units who are meant to earn money and nothing else so I decided I wanted nothing to do with architecture. But my intention wasn’t to turn my back on architecture, it was to turn my face towards what I love.” 

Mr Phadke then worked as a teacher and was part of a group that started a school on the outskirts of Pune in a couple of years, constructing the classrooms from scratch.  

“That’s when I remembered I’m supposed to be able to design and build so I learned from traditional builders who do it for a living and worked as a hands-on practitioner.” 

Mr Phadke later moved to the UK when his wife Persis won a scholarship to do a geography PHD at King’s College in London and joined a traditional building skills programme, a collaboration run by QEST and the Prince’s Foundation, where he expanded his repertoire by training as a stonemason. 

While on the course, Mr Phadke was based for four months at Dumfries House in Ayrshire. 

While there, he and his fellow students built a new education pavilion on the estate. He said: “It was an opportunity for me to become a student again and become part of the programme. I was really happy that I got the opportunity. Even though I’d done stone work in the past, I hadn’t trained as a stone mason.” 

Mr Phadke subsequently received an Albukhary Foundation Scholarship to do an MA at The Prince’s Foundation’s School of Traditional Arts, where he now works as a tutor.  

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He has now been invited to the Coronation on Saturday. “It's still sinking in and I don’t know what to expect considering I’ve never been to a coronation before,” he said. “It’s with that spirit in mind that I’m approaching it.” 

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Sourabh said the recent changes in his life had helped him realise how much he loved his work. “Crafts and skills are opportunities to reflect. I might be building a toilet in India or working with a student on a project in the UK, but it’s still the same. We need to be able to respect everything in the same way – it can offer us the same joy and the same love.” 

Gordon Neil, executive director of The Prince’s Foundation at Dumfries House, said: “We are so proud of Sourabh's achievements, before he arrived to study with us at Dumfries House, all the way through our traditional craft skills programme, and while at The Prince's Foundation's School of Traditional Arts.  

“His selflessness and dedication to study are being greatly rewarded by being a guest of ours at this weekend's Coronation, which is sure to be a special day for our charity founder His Majesty The King as well as Sourabh and his fellow guests.”