The Pantry Christmas Market to be held on Saturday 2nd December in Piddington, a small village near Bicester, will mark the 5th anniversary of this successful venture, and will be our biggest so far.
We’ll be celebrating the determination of a small community to create and sustain a new village amenity in tough times, and the wide-ranging effect this successful bid to make a difference in our community has had on our village.
The first Pantry Market and Coffee Shop was held in the village hall at Piddington, a small community near Bicester, on Saturday 1st December 2012. Back then, Francesca Darby, one of the organisers, stated,
“The intention is to make the market a regular feature … the hope being that this will eventually become a source of funding … and achieve greater local awareness for the plight of small villages.”
At the time, the village had just lost its pub. Fast forward five years (and over 20 markets) and we are still going strong, the organising group and fantastic volunteers still include the same faces and our stall holders continue to give their support.
Our original aim was to promote small local businesses and fundraise for a village shop. However, after village consultation, it was apparent that the latter aim lacked real viability. Nevertheless, the group believed that other village causes could be helped.
The Pantry has so far raised over £10,000, generated by profits from the general store, beer tent and coffee shop, stallholder fees, raffles and secondhand book sales. At each market, we have offered a free table to St Nicholas Church, where volunteers sell homemade cakes to raise funds for essential work on the building.
This summer The Pantry offered a donation of £3000 each to the committee of the village hall, towards the renovation of its kitchen, and to St Nicholas Church project group, for their plans to construct a kitchen/servery. We hope that by this time next year one if not both projects will be completed.
The Pantry has had a more wide-ranging effect than simply raising money for village projects, however. The sense of involvement and community spirit it has fostered in villagers has led to other community initiatives, such as the three hugely successful Apple Days held in Piddington, which has resulted in Piddington Village Apple Juice and Piddington Cider, both of which are sold to raise further funds for village causes.
We feel delighted and proud that a small rural community that had lost most of its amenities has managed to create and sustain such a successful initiative in tough times. The market exists through community patronage. While The Pantry blog (piddingtonpantry.wordpress.com) has a worldwide following, it is our visitors who create the special atmosphere on the day.
The Christmas Pantry will be held on SATURDAY 2nd DECEMBER, 10am to 2pm, in the village hall, Piddington, OX25 1PU, and will mark our fifth anniversary. It is due to be the biggest yet. Put the date in the diary and tell your friends!
In the meantime, thank you for your continued support.