IT WAS while he was 200ft in the air that Graeme Bone started to think differently about himself. He was standing on a cherry-picker above a building site looking down at rows of girders laid out on the ground and in his mind’s eye he could see them fitted together as a finished building. “I didn’t realise it was a skill,” he says. “Not everyone sees things that way.”

What Graeme also didn’t realise was that the talent he had to see patterns and grids in things was something he could apply to other areas of his life, and even to himself. Graeme wasn’t enjoying working on a building site any more – he’d been doing it pretty much since he left school at 16 and his back was knackered. Construction also wasn’t really what he was interested in doing for the rest of his life; slowly, gradually, he was imagining a different pattern.

And now he’s doing it. I watch Graeme as he talks to some of his potential clients, a long roll of fabric laid out in front of him. Just like he did in his days on the building site, he can see patterns and grids in the material. He can imagine it trimmed and stitched and cinched and transformed into something different; he can imagine it as one of the kilts he is increasingly well-known for creating.

How exactly he got to this point is a story worth telling because, like other kids from deprived communities, there were obstacles. Graeme grew up in Auchinleck, one of the towns in Ayrshire that has suffered for nigh on 40 years due to the disappearance of mining. It’s left many in the community, for understandable reasons, feeling there are no opportunities for them and Graeme says he had to consciously fight against the culture, especially in his own head.

But he had some help, which is the reason I’m meeting him today. Graeme is at Dumfries House, the estate in Ayrshire that’s also the headquarters of The Prince’s Foundation, King Charles III’s educational charity. Graeme has set up a stall to show off his work which he does with engaging, high-speed passion. He’s also wearing one of his own creations: a striking blood-scarlet kilt that’s designed to sit lower on the legs for a more androgynous look. This is the kind of life he might have imagined when he was 200ft in the air on a cherry-picker and now he’s doing it.

What helped get him here, undoubtedly, was The Modern Artisan, a training programme run by The Prince’s Foundation in partnership with YOOX Net-a-Porter that prepares students for working in fashion and textiles. Graeme was one of the graduates from the first year and is back at Dumfries House to meet the graduates from the second. They include Merie Phillips, a 49-year-old designer from Lanarkshire, who shows me one of her creations, a beautiful women’s herringbone coat that sparkles with a subtle pink thread.

The point is that Graeme and Merie might not have got to this stage without the work that’s being done by schemes like the one they’ve just been through, which aims to make artisanship a viable career. Not only does it teach people the kind of skills they might need, it connects them to influential industry figures and brands such as Net-a-Porter. Graeme tells me one of the bespoke kilts he’s created is for Federico Marchetti, Net-a-Porter’s founder.

And even if fashion isn’t your thing, there are similar schemes at Dumfries House for people interested in other industries – hospitality for example, engineering, or traditional skills such as stonemasonry; in fact, across the year, some 15,000 people take part in all the projects that are based on the estate. One of them is a fast-track, six-week course that helps give people who’ve been long-term unemployed the skills they need to work in Ayrshire’s textile industry, which is crying out for staff.

Obviously, seen in the context of the whole of Ayrshire or Scotland, the numbers we’re dealing with here are relatively small, although Dumfries House is now one of the biggest employers in the county. We also shouldn’t underestimate the change that can be created by people who’ve been changed themselves; call it a ripple if you like. Graeme, for example, says he often tells kids in the area who think life is crap that there are opportunities. “Just because you’re from Auchinleck doesn’t mean you have to settle,” he says.

The work being done at Dumfries House is also having other, wider effects, which, as someone who lives near the estate, I’ve seen for myself. Graeme too. He tells me that the training course changed him personally, and helped give him the confidence he has now. But he also says that he’s seen changes in his home town as well. “The main street was very run down,” he says, “but you see more and more new wee businesses popping up.”

This – the regeneration of communities – is explicitly one of the key missions of The Prince’s Foundation and Dumfries House demonstrates how the cultural and economic change that’s required can be created and encouraged through British history and heritage. Some people don’t get it. Some people say you’d be better off spending the money directly on the community rather than on a big posh house in the country. But speak to people who live near the house, like Graeme, and they’ll tell you how it works.

It’s clear that working in the middle of a community in this way can also have longer-lasting positives. Graeme is starting out on a new and interesting career – he already has ideas of designing clothes and accessories “from top to toe” – but he’s also joining an industry, traditional kilt-making, that is, even in Scotland, endangered and on the red list. A lot of the kilts worn at weddings are shipped in from abroad or made on the cheap and Graeme wants to do something to change that.

I suspect he will – he’s only in his thirties now and says he wouldn’t be able to recognise the man he was a few years ago. He also tells me about the links he’s established with influential figures in fashion and textiles as well as the King himself, whom he’s met six or seven times. King Charles is a lovely and genuine guy, says Graeme, and is interested in every aspect of the fashion industry. It’s crazy that he’s met him so often, he says.

The fact that Graeme is buzzing about what’s happening to him in this way is lovely to see, but it also underlines the kind of changes projects like this can bring about. For Graeme, it means – in his own words – that he’s getting where he wants to be. But year by year, there will be others like him: engineers, architects, designers. It is, if you like, one of the quiet signs of a legacy that’s being built by the new King in Scotland. It is, if you look closely, a kind of pattern.

Read more by Mark Smith:

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Eddie Izzard and our strange attitudes on men and clothes