The culmination of a few months of planning and creating seasonal products, our annual Christmas Fayre this year surpassed all the previous ones in the quantity and quality of products on offer and the amount we raised. When it comes to the intangibles, the conversations, the atmosphere, the encouraging stories and the sense of pride – the stuff that really matters – we have been overwhelmed with the response.
Looking towards the fayre began in the summer, when volunteer and trustee Richard, began prototyping new products for the occasion. For a start, each year we come up with a new sort of Christmas tree. Of course, there are old favourites to be rolled out, too: like our pens, bird boxes and chopping boards.
In the weeks running up to the fayre, it’s like being in Santa’s workshop as trainees team up and take over the production of standard items, or get to work on a top notch, one-off item to contribute. It’s a moment when those who have benefitted from coming during the year have an opportunity to give back to the project and put in a special effort – it brings great results.
New additions to the product range that proved especially popular included the hand-made nativity scenes, Christmas eve boxes, snowman decorations, rustic reindeer, and tree decorations.
When the day comes, Santa’s Workshop becomes a Winter Wonderland. There are no machines running, it’s just “all hands on deck” to clear space, decorate it and convert workbenches into stalls. The transformation is speedy and startling. As much as possible, we have trainees contributing their particular talents too. Live music was provided by Adam and Lauren, and Derek’s homemade broth was a big hit – the recipe remains a closely guarded secret.
We also had a stall selling biscuits and artisan breads baked for the occasion by some of our tiniest supporters, Daniel, Jakey and Suzie, and another selling personalised décor items, run by a friend of one of our trainees.
Guests began to arrive from 3pm when we opened and, just an hour or so later as the winter darkness fell early, the market was in full swing. We were quick to sell the popular items and had to begin taking orders that will keep us busy in the short window left before Christmas. A few guests commented that they wished they had come with more cash.
With a couple of hours still to go we had sold enough to beat our fundraising record for these events, and by the end of the evening counted over £800 in cash and had orders taking the total over £1,400. While this will help us stay warm and keep investing in the development of our trainees, more than anything it highlights the industry and enthusiasm that has gone in to creating products and putting on the event.
It’s a proud moment that was repeated over and over during the evening, when a trainee sees something they have made being chosen and paid for and going to a new home with a satisfied customer. They can see how they have done something real that has added value and enabled them to give to the community. The fayre is strongly driven by our trainees, who not only create the products but also arrange and man the displays, greet guests and talk about their work here – it’s their moment to shine.
Congratulations to all our trainees and many thanks to all who came and supported us on the night. May your days be merry and bright.