Free places for traders at festive fair

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TRADERS are being offered free places to sell their wares as an historic country estate presents its first Christmas Fair.

The Kitchen Garden Cafe at Meldon Park, near Morpeth, is hosting the festive event next week to help raise funds for St Oswald’s Hospice.

Space is available for up to 40 stallholders at the two-day fair, and Meldon Park owners Emily and James Cookson are inviting them to attend for free.

So far, 15 businesses have taken up the offer, including jewellers, artists, potters and florists, but there is still space for more.

All they have to do is donate an item for the raffle or tombola to help raise money for St Oswald’s.

Mrs Cookson said: “There is no reason why over time we can’t become one of the biggest Christmas fairs in the North East, but this is the first one we’ve held so we want to make it really special for stallholders and customers.

“We know from personal experience how hard it is setting up a business in the current climate so we wanted to give something back to local businesses and give them a chance to end the year on a high note. Businesses have been hit by the recession and escalating costs and, because this is our first Christmas Fair, we will offer them a free stall and help them make money on the day.

“Christmas is a very important time for businesses so this is a golden opportunity to take a stall at a big Christmas fair for free. This will enable us to establish what we hope will become a major event in the future, help local businesses and raise lots of money for charity, so everyone benefits.

“We have already had a lot of positive feedback and we want to give customers a really positive experience so that they go away on each of the two days having really enjoyed themselves.”

The event, which will take place on Saturday, December 8 and Sunday, December 9, will also feature carol singers from Wannie Line Community Choir, Santa and a cookery demonstration.

Businesses will be asked to pay a returnable deposit of £50 to have a stall for one day or £80 for both days.

St Oswald’s fund-raiser Danielle Neighbour said: “We are thrilled that Meldon Park has chosen to support St Oswald’s with this event. We are extremely grateful for its support. We rely on the generosity of our supporters and events such as Meldon Park’s Christmas Fair help us to continue providing specialist care for children, young people and adults from across the North East.”

For more information go to www.meldonpark.co.uk