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Sarah Ferguson learns about life on a Manchester estate for her latest TV outing

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For her new small screen documentary The Duchess On the Estate, Sarah spent ten days at Manchester's Northern Moor housing estate in Wythenshawe talking to local residents in an attempt to improve community relations
 

11 AUGUST 2009

By her own admission, "most people don't go hoodie hunting late at night" - but then Sarah Ferguson is not most people.

The Duchess of York has just spent ten days on the outskirts of Manchester's Northern Moor housing estate in Wythenshawe – the setting for the Shameless series – talking to the people living there in an attempt to improve community relations.

As well as taking time to get to know some of the 66,000 locals, the mum-of-two spent an evening down the local pub playing pool as she tried to discover the problems facing residents for her new two-part series, The Duchess On The Estate.

"The hoodies I spoke to thought I was a toffee-nosed git and were effing and blinding. But that's fine. I wanted them to realise that not everybody is automatically going to think they are bad," the 49-year-old said.

In her quest to bring mothers together to help transform the area into a thriving community, Sarah helped to makeover a council-owned building, turning it into a community centre for local people.

And while the experience was not without incident – a man shot out the windows of the facility one night – the Duchess was particularly impressed by the efforts of one lifelong resident, 42-year-old mum Dawn McGeown.

"I recruited a mums' army to find an old building to transform into a community centre. And I found Dawn, this wonderful, strong, special woman who knew everyone, and made her my colonel-in-chief," Sarah explains. "She's now on my payroll."

The flame-haired campaigner's latest project follows her TV appearance on The Duchess In Hull, in which she attempted to persuade a local family to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

She also travelled to Romania with her girls, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, to film a Tonight special on the conditions of state-run institutions there for orphans and disabled children.

Asked what her daughters' think of her new project, Sarah said: "They're very proud of everything I do. So is Prince Andrew. I don’t do anything without the blessing of my family."

The Duchess On The Estate can be seen on ITV1 on August 18 at 9pm.

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