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Red Cross Christmas Market 2017



As Dickens wrote in A Christmas Carol: “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour” and this was in abundance on the Feltmakers’ stall at the biennial British Red Cross Christmas Market. Moreover, the Feltmakers’ sales team raised a staggering £5,227.10, apparently the highest sum raised by any of the Livery stalls.

This could not have been achieved without the generosity of the milliners, hat factories, retailers and individuals who so kindly donated hats for this worthy cause.

As each box revealed its glorious contents, our stall-holders feared there would be insufficient space to display their wares. However, this turned out to be a wonderful conundrum as the Feltmakers’ stall was a riot of eye-catching, stylish headware which attracted lots of attention.

The Lord and Lady Mayoress officially opened proceedings on Preview Night in the presence of H.R.H. Princess Alexandra, after which Michael Mainelli, co-Chair of the Christmas Market and enthusiastic MC, gave a potted history of the Red Cross. He explained how Henry Dunant had helped wounded soldiers at the battle of Solferino in 1859 and then lobbied political leaders to take more action to protect war victims. By 1862, Dunant had committed his ideas to a campaigning book, A Souvenir of Solferino, and went on to form a working group which met in 1863 and became the embryonic International Committee of the Red Cross.

The energetic Feltmakers’ sales team proved to be a winning combination of different talents, benefitting from those who could advise on the correct way to wear a hat, to others who were skilled at merchandising and those who demonstrated convincing sales pitches. The energy level of our stalwart stallholder levels was sustained by a regular flow of ice-cold Champagne which probably enhanced their sales patter!

Additional support was given by our dedicated young models who helped to direct footfall to the stall by wearing some of the wonderful creations as they wandered around the market.

A steady stream of shoppers continued to visit the Feltmakers’ stall throughout the following “Market Day”. We were struck by the diversity of our customers and delighted to see so many young men and women keen to try on the hats and then continue through to purchase. Indeed, some were making multiple acquisitions. It proved to be enormously satisfying to match hats to the variety of personalities who turned up, several of whom were initially reticent to experiment with a hat, claiming that they were “not hat people”.

It was also delightful to overhear some of the comments from satisfied customers such as one lady who declared she hadn’t been so thrilled with a hat since her 20s and another who said: “your stall is glorious! I can just imagine what confections have been snapped up. I adore my hat!”.

None of this would have been possible without the months of “behind the scenes” preparation and the military precision of our team of volunteers who turned up for duty and stayed beyond their allocated slot. Moreover, we had the daunting task of following the dynamic duo of Past Masters, Eda Rose-Lawson and Susan Wood.

A truly grateful and heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped in any way to generate such a successful outcome.

Rebecca Nelson

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