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GrandFest 2017: What is it?

Older people showcased their craft skills at GrandFest in London

GrandFest, a one day festival returned to East London for the third year, which celebrated the skills of older people

Older people took over Spitalfields on Sunday 18th June 2017

More than 20 free masterclasses were run by talented older people aged 70+ held across various venues across Shoreditch

Performances at the festival included; New Covent Garden Dance Orchestra, Bella Donna Brigade and Swing Patrol

Thousands of visitors descended in Spitalfields on Sunday 18th June to celebrate London's unique craft festival, Grandfest. Hosted by older people's charity, Royal Voluntary Service, the festival, now in its third year, celebrated older people and the heritage skills they have to share with the younger generation.

The slo;;ed GrandMakers, all aged over 70, hosted a series of masterclasses from bread making to crochet and basket weaving to woodturning to share their ountain of knowledge and inspire others to pick up a hobby. The fun and interactive masterclasses took place in various shops, cafe's and museums including the Geffrye Museum, Hanbury Hall, The Ten Bells, AGA, Blixen and Anthropologie.

The most popular masterclasses were cider making, woodturning and quilting. Thousands of people attended the event a Spitalfields market in east London 77 year old GrandMaker, Clive Lillow said: "It is very important to pass on the older traditional skills that are disappearing. GrandFest was a huge success and it was great to share my passion for bread making onto the younger generation. My great grandma was a big commercial baker in Wales and I like making bread the same way she made bread, I hope to continue passing on my skills in the future.!

Royal Voluntary Service helps people to stay active and connected in their older age by providing a raft of clubs, and events, many of which are run by volunteers, where older people can enjoy their hobby or interest in the company of others. Previous research by the charity revealed the importance of continuing to maintain hobbies into later life, 69% of over 70 year olds practice at least 2 hobbies on a regular basis claiming this contribute significantly to their health and wellbeing.

Between masterclasses, in the GrandFest hub in Bishops Square, a variety of performer's entertained festival goers on the GrandFest stage which included; The new Covent Garden Dance Orchestra, singing trio, the Belladonna Brigade, and talented swing dance group, swing patrol.

Fiona Longhurst, Director of the Royal Voluntary Service said "Royal Voluntary Service launched GrandFest to celebrate the many skills possessed by older people and to highlight the importance of them continuing to enjoy and share them in life. What a fantastic day GrandFest was and we were thrilled with the amount of people that turned out to support us. Our GrandMakers were delighted to showcase their heritage skills and hopefully their passion should inspire the younger generation to get involved in a new hobby"

The event was supported by McCarthy and Stone, the UK's leading retirement housebuilder as part of their 40th anniversary year.

The Royal Voluntary Service is one of the biggest volunteer organisations in the UK, which supports over 100,000 older people each month. Through its army of 35,000 volunteers, the charity runs services such as Good Neighbours (companionship), Lunch and Dinging Clubs, Exercise and Dance Classes and Books-on-Wheels, that help older people remain independent and connected with their local community. Royal Voluntary Service also provides practical support for older people who have been in hospital through its On Ward support and Home from Hospital services and via its network of retail shops and cafes.

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