A great date for a fete!
22 July 2015
by Selina Mills
Last week we organised our first Great Fete in Vauxhall Park, London. The fete launched a project to support more people to hold fetes in aid of Leonard Cheshire Disability, both in our services around the country and out in the community. Staff from our office in Vauxhall volunteered to help run stalls and donated prizes for stands.
Watching people setting up a fete is an odd experience. One moment you have a wide open green park with bins, benches and elegant flower beds. The next, a space filled with bouncy castles, tents, invigorating music and wonderfully smelling food from different stands.
As the communications team had offered a tombola stand, my first job was to help man the stall. We labelled the prizes, which ranged from the alluring (Bailey's, whiskey and beer) to child-friendly (yoghurt drinks and a Minions savings tin!) and even an intriguing bottle of olive oil. Because our stall was one of the first people went by, business was brisk, and we had quite a few repeat visitors. We also had top viewing of the ‘hook the duck’ stall next to us. There is nothing like watching an adult trying to hook a rubber duck with a stick at the same time as a six-year-old. (No prizes for guessing who hooked the ducky first!)
Once my shift was over, I wondered around the rest of the park. I had my cards read by ‘Crystal Bol’ (our resident Mystic Meg), named the stuffed toy dog (Leonard the Labrador) and managed to force myself to have a very weak Pimm's at the Pimms bar. I also found myself dancing with the fire officers to the local musicians, who played the fiddle and accordion with much gusto. My partner, who is not known for public enthusiasm, grinned happily and sheepishly upon winning quite a lot of booty. He came back to find me, loaded with sweeties, beer, a children's laser toy, and a large bottle of whiskey. We had to get a bag to carry it all home!
There were also some lovely pop-up food stands. Our local Italian café set up a stall serving bowls of spaghetti bolognese. A local kebab stall was making chicken, meat and veggie kebabs. As the park was accessible, a few people dropped by in their wheelchairs and motorised buggies. Kids came after school and bounced with delight on the bouncy castle (I was told I couldn’t bounce, as I was too ‘old’) and when the band was not playing, uplifting ABBA and Queen songs belted out on the sound system.
What was truly wonderful was the gentle gathering of the community coming together. It was a lovely feeling of locals wondering around, playing games, munching and dancing. Although I had to leave by 6.30pm, I am told the feeling continued well into early evening.
Selina Mills is an external communications officer at Leonard Cheshire Disability.
If you'd like to hold your own fete in support of Leonard Cheshire Disability, contact our events team for advice and support.