*names have been changed.
Yesterday I had a little chat with the lovely Debby*. Debby has been coming to CAI Craft Sessions for over a year now. She likes spending time doing craft and various church activities (she is pretty busy at this time of year with plenty of Christmas parties!) When I asked Debby if she had a favourite craft activity, she said "everything". I have now had this same response from several participants, so it seems the crafts are really too enjoyable to choose between! Whilst Debby may not have a favourite craft, she clearly has a gift for beading. I noticed that she often wears a colourful cross necklace; a lady at her church gave her the cross pendant as a present, which Debby turned it into a necklace with multicoloured beads. She tells me she wears it everyday, and it reminds her of her faith. This Thursday she was making a couple of rainbow-coloured necklaces for Christmas gifts. At the end of the session she surprised craft volunteer, Lynn, by giving one to her. Lynn models it beautifully in the photo below!
*names have been changed.
Sorry we’ve been a bit quiet on the blog-front recently – life has certainly not been quiet at Craft Aid over the last few weeks. Lots of exciting happenings….
On the 21st November, we held our first ever candle-lit concert with acclaimed vocalist and harpist Lucy Bunce. Glimmering tea-lights, angelic singing, heavenly harp music (pardon the cliché, but ‘heavenly’ does describe it well!) and a sparkly Peruvian jewellery display, along with other Craft Aid goods, made for a very beautiful evening. All this sophistication helped raise money towards the Peru project and awareness about the work of Craft Aid International. Susie also sang a few songs with Lucy. The music was so moving that at one point a whole row of the audience were in tears!
The following week was spent preparing for the Knitting and Stitching Show, which ran from Thursday to Sunday (26th-29th November). If you haven’t heard about it before, the show is not a theatrical production starring needles and thread… it is the biggest craft fair in Europe and we were very grateful to have a stand at this year’s show in Harrogate. It was an amazing experience.
Thousands of people came to Harrogate from all over the country especially for the show. Our volunteer Natasha (read a bit of her story here) did a brilliant job of helping prepare everything for the show and organised some exciting raffle prizes, including a signed book by British fashion icon, Zandra Rhodes. Differently-able participants from our Harrogate craft sessions helped behind the counter and worked on the stand, teaching the public how to make beautiful fabric flower corsages. Some participants volunteered at the stand every day, and even toured the show, giving out flyers and selling raffle tickets, which is a massive task in such an unbelievably huge venue. There were halls and halls of different craft stalls!
The Craft Aid products sold really well, and the other exhibitors were so helpful and supportive. We were even told our stall resembled Harrods! We also had several customers asking for advice about setting up craft sessions for differently-able people in various parts of the country. It is so encouraging to know that there are people all over the UK, who share CAI’s heart to empower people with disabilities, and who want to be trained and equipped to make this happen.
As well as a harp concert and the show, we have also had stalls at two Church Christmas fairs and Susie has been at several jewellery parties and given talks for different groups of people. Even as I write, she is travelling back from a weekend of events (including another concert, a jewellery party and various talks) in Cambridge. Meanwhile, the craft sessions continue to run, and the employees at the project in Peru have been busy keeping up with the large stock demands.
Just want to end this post by saying a huge huge thank you to everyone who has made all of these things possible. Sending you all lots of metaphorical gold stars from CAI! (sorry we’re not sending all our volunteers and supporters real star stickers…Maybe one day…)
Susie Hart MBE