A spirited success

news: A spirited success


Network’s Spirit of Christmas Fair, in its second year at Armação de Pêra’s Hotel Garbe, turned out to be the place to be on the December 1 bank holiday. Hundreds of supporters came from all parts of the Algarve and, at times, it was hard to see the stalls for the crowds – a great start to the festive fair season for sellers and buyers alike. With everything from pillows to pendants and books to baubles, nobody went away empty-handed.

Some people even made a day of it, with around 80 AFPOP Silves and Carvoeiro area members enjoying Christmas lunch, organised by Celia and David Mossman, in the hotel restaurant, before taking a look around the 50 stalls to start their Christmas shopping. There were many well-known faces present and the organisers were particularly delighted to welcome the British Consul for the Algarve, Roger Nuttall.

Best of all from the organisers’ point of view was the outstanding success of the charity fundraising raffle and tombola stalls. With every penny going to Network’s charity of the year, the Algarve Oncology Association (AOA), there were smiles on the faces of all involved, as visitors queued up to buy tickets and show their support. And, at the end of the day, a cheque for an incredible 1,373 euros was handed over to AOA representative, Cynthia Williams. Thanks go to all those who donated prizes for both the tombola, a new event organised by Susan Winstanley, and the raffle, and to everyone who bought and sold tickets on the day – your support was overwhelming.

Other charities also benefited from the public’s generosity on the day and they have all asked Network to pass on their thanks, including the ladies of the Western Ladies Lunch Group, whose bring-and-buy cake sale netted around 250 euros for the Salvation Army.

One of the most popular attractions was the carol singing sessions, kindly staged by members of the Silves’ Keep Fit For Charity Club, who were delighted with the generosity of the crowd in their fundraising efforts for Castelo dos Sonhos.

It goes without saying that the day wouldn’t have been complete without the help of Santa. The real Father Christmas was overbooked and had to make his apologies, but a very able stand-in, in the shape of Algarve businessman, John Havery, did him proud.

Santa spent the entire day guiding the hundreds of visitors around the attractions, which, this year, due to the increased demand from stall-holders, spread into all parts of the hotel. He was particularly keen to encourage everyone to make a trip upstairs to the Chelb, where, as well as the usual variety of craft and gift stalls, they could also see how they were bearing up to the day’s exertions with free blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol tests, courtesy of Luzdoc. Santa was persuaded to rest his own weary legs for a few minutes and take the BP test. Diagnosis? More rest!

This year’s Christmas fair organiser, Network member Anne Parish, was delighted with the success of the event and said a personal thank-you to all involved. “I can’t mention everyone individually – there was so much support – but they all know who they are and should give themselves a pat on the back. But, on behalf of everyone at Network, I do want to make a special mention of the Hotel Garbe for their fantastic support, which they gave at no cost to the organisation. And to the stall-holders and visitors, thanks for coming – we couldn’t have done it without you.”

• Top prize in the charity raffle, a weekend for two at the Hotel Garbe, donated by the hotel, was won by Mrs Ann Bull of Southend, England. Ann and her husband have been coming to the Algarve for 20 years and, now retired, spend their winters here. Second prize of an overnight stay at the Pestana Hotel was won by Pat Lawson of Vale Fuzeiros, a member of the Silves’ Carol Singing Group.