Virtual Christmas market is supporting hospice and 40 small businesses


A virtual Christmas market which has given small businesses a ‘lifeline’ during lockdown has also raised more than £2,000 for charity.

Teacher Bev Alaimo, from Penkhull, had originally been planning with her daughter Francesca to hold a pie and pea support and quiz in aid of the Douglas Macmillan Hospice.

But when Covid-19 scuppered the idea, her eldest daughter Victoria stepped in and  organised the festive market on Facebook.

It has been featuring businesses selling everything from personalised cookies to reusable face coverings. Each of the 40 stallholders paid a £5 fee to be involved, with a percentage of their profits being donated to the Blurton hospice.

So far, they have raised £2,350 for the cause, with the market still ‘open’ until December 15.

Bev and her family have been supported by the ‘phenomenal’ Dougie Mac team several times when family members were under the care of hospice staff, including Bev’s grandmother May Holt, her cousin Dawn’s mum and Bev’s aunt Pam, and her sister-in-law Marie’s mum, Elsie.

Bev Alaimo with her daughters Francesca Alaimo and Victoria Bradley

“Dougie Mac are a wonderful support to not only the people they care for, but families and loved ones too,” said 57-year-old Bev.

She has been amazed at how the virtual market has taken off as well.

“It’s been bigger than we could ever have imagined,” she added. “One of our stallholders, Laura Selina, who runs Sail Away Aromas, donated all of her profits from her angel wing melts to Dougie Mac, which is £53 to date. She is amazing.

“We have around 1,500 members in the Facebook group now and people keep asking if they can share it with their friends, and it just grows from there.

Bev’s late aunt Pam and grandmother May

“It’s been brilliant because we have been able to support small local businesses after what has been a tough year, as well as supporting a really wonderful charity.

“We have even had people from abroad who have family in the UK and have purchased things and had them delivered to family members.

“I think a lot of its success is down to Victoria, who really has been the mover and shaker. She was really putting our market out there and spreading the word.

“She also made sure that each stallholder was given the chance to showcase their business at a particular time. They would get an hour where they would receive admin rights in the group and had that quality time to show everyone what they were offering.”

Thanks to the success of this year’s event, Bev, Victoria and Francesca hope that they can run the market again next year.

Bev added: “A lot of people have got in touch and said that they have been able to buy all of their family’s Christmas presents from small businesses, and others have said that the warm and friendly atmosphere of the market has been a lifeline for them during this second lockdown.

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“It has a real feel good factor and I’m so thankful for all of the businesses and shoppers that have been involved.

“People have already said to us, ‘please say you’ll do another one next year’ and I think we will, because it has been so successful and just such a lovely thing to be a part of.

“Our target for this year was to raise £2,020 which we achieved, so next year we are hoping to raise £2,021.”

To find out more about the market, click here.





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