In February and early March we invited local people to collect a free piece of clay from us or from Alford Pottery to make into a clay bird for our Spring Bank Holiday Weekend. This idea was so popular 1060 birds were returned for drying and firing – all shapes and sizes – quite a sight!
Things started to change in mid March and we had to close the Shop and Craft Centre on the 19th March slightly ahead of the Government’s restrictions for Covid 19. Our sellers removed much of their stock and the Shop looked quite sad and desolate during closure.
Next came the cancellation of our Easter Weekend Craft Market, which should have been a full 4 days at Alford Corn Exchange, and then the cancellation of our Spring Bank Holiday weekend. We were so sorry that our Craft Markets and bird display could not go ahead. There would have been a theme of Pottery with potters from far and wide to take part in the weekend. We were going to have Matt Wilcock the winner of the first BBC Pottery Throwdown to open it. We have already decided that we will reschedule all this in 2021.
During April we realised that we had to do something for local parents and children during lockdown to keep their spirits up by being creative. Alford Craft Market gave the people of Alford and the surrounding villages a fun and creative community project! We had the idea of people making a really Big Pom Pom Garland made of multi coloured Pom Poms. Each pom pom had a label attached where people put their name and a message to a friend, or family, or just a message to the world. We sponsored 240 free pom pom kits and these were delivered safely by the Alford Hub volunteers. People liked the idea so much we ended up with 400 pom poms! Our pom pom garland is now on display in the tree in the Market Place, Alford and there are some in the Shop too.
Then we started thinking about the children. Away from school they may have already run out of things to do, so we gave them a choice of 5 free craft kits that were delivered safely to them on request and directly to their homes. There was an Activity Pack, a Bird kit, a Bug kit and Butterfly House and a Fabric Painting kit. We gave out 270 of these. We have received many wonderful messages of thanks, some amazing pictures, and heart-warming tales. We are so glad to have been able to do this. Some of the pictures have been in our Shop window during May and into June.
In May some customers suggested to us that we should have an online shop where some of our sellers could sell their work. We started off with just a few but this has proved very popular and we now have an online shop with 15 craftspeople selling their work through us. Have a look and see what you think!
In early June our week long exhibition of our member’s work at the North Sea Observatory had to be cancelled as the building was closed.
Mid June found us trying to decide whether our biggest event of the year could go ahead – our August Bank Holiday Weekend Craft Market. The Government was relaxing some rules but not for events, and an event of this size takes time to organise properly. Alford Manor House had told us that they would not be open, and other events in August in Alford had already been cancelled. Musicians and street theatre performers were finding it difficult to find a safe way of working - so it was with a heavy heart we decided to cancel too.
Early July - we are pleased to say that we have been able to open the Shop and the Craft Centre again with limited days that we are open, and hope we will have the support of our Community to keep things going.
In September we will increase the number of classes we have on offer and open the Shop 4 days a week instead of just 2 days a week in July and August.
In November we are looking forward to our 2 Christmas Craft Markets and hope that they will be allowed to go ahead. We are joining in with the Alford Christmas Extravaganza on Saturday 28th November in the Corn Exchange and we will also have some craft stalls in the Market Place. We hope to see you there!