Sandford craft and gift fair is 30 years old

Children’s craft activity area in action

Children’s craft activity area in action - Credit: Archant

On Saturday November 14th the Sandford Craft Fair will be celebrating its 30th year, to celebrate this we are going back it its roots and fundraising for street children across the world

Mel Stride with myself, Bindy Saywood craft fair organiser

Mel Stride with myself, Bindy Saywood craft fair organiser - Credit: Archant

The fair was set up by local resident Susie Williams in 1985 as a response to Live Aid. With the help of other Sandford residents it was run as a fundraiser with stalls selling crafts and gifts; lunches, teas and the grand raffle of crafts. It proved a success and after a couple of years Susie invited the school PTA, Friends of Sandford School, to run a kitchen and to benefit from the funds raised.

In 2009 another local resident and PTA member, Bindy Saywood, offered to take over when Susie expressed her wish to step down. Both were keen to make sure the fair itself continued and also wanted to keep the local crafts and fundraising aspects whilst making it more appealing to the whole community.

Children enjoying the home baked chocolate cake

Children enjoying the home baked chocolate cake - Credit: Archant

The Sandford Craft Fair now has a bustling and welcoming atmosphere and is very much a community event with volunteers coming forward to help from across the local community. Bindy has ensured that the range of crafts and gifts has widened and it has gone back to its craft roots – now with the proviso that all stallholders only sell locally handmade items.

Susie set the foundations for this wonderful event and it has now grown to be an annual event recognised outside of the local community and amongst many crafters and makers in Devon. It is lovely that, alongside the old favourites, there are many new and varied stalls each year. All are selling locally handmade and affordable crafts and gifts. Many are local artists; skilled crafts people, makers and food producers, whilst others are crafters who build up their stock ready for this event. The fair is a chance to sell their work but also to advertise workshops and accept commission work. There are about 35 stalls each year with jewellery, pottery; paintings and prints; photography and cards; wooden items, textile and knitted items; food - jams, pickles and oils, fudge, locally pressed apple juice, cakes; honey and beeswax products; handmade soaps and herbal skin care, and mixed in with all of this, lots of handmade Christmas gifts, treats, wreaths and decorations. Something for everyone!

Each year there are the popular home cooked lunches; soups; afternoon teas and treats; the Lucky Numbers Raffle with a chance to win one of the many craft and gift prizes and for the children, the stage is turned into a busy, creative space dedicated to the ‘Children’s Craft Activity Area’.

Ben Boyland and some of his beautiful wooden pieces available at ‘Benjamin’s Barn’.

Ben Boyland and some of his beautiful wooden pieces available at ‘Benjamin’s Barn’. - Credit: Archant

The friends of Sandford School and Sandford Playgroup now work together with Bindy to organise the kitchen and to run the Children’s Craft Area. The money raised is used to support creative projects in school and playgroup. Each year there are also locals using their making skills to fundraise for other charities. In the past these have included Asthma UK and Children in Need and funds are being raised for the Breast Care unit in the RD&E hospital.

But this year, to celebrate the 30th anniversary and to acknowledge the fair’s original roots, there is going to be a special fundraising focus for children outside of our local community - children living in deprivation and poverty and without a home. There will be a special stall fundraising for charities supporting Street Children across the world. These Charites include Street Child, Railway Children (India) and Street Child Africa. There will be an information table and giant chocolate cake raffle on the day. There is already an online Virgin Money Giving page set up where anyone interested can find out more about these charities and can donate direct with Gift Aid. The craft fair fundraising page is

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