LONDON’S FIRST OLDER PEOPLE’S FESTIVAL TAKES OVER OLD STREET


  • More than 20 free masterclasses run by talented older people aged 70+ held across eight Hoxton venues.

  • Performances from older group, Claremont Dancers, and 1940s Bella Donna and Swing Patrol.

  • Older people and their young protégés take over Hoxton Square for one day only.

On Saturday 13 June, visitors aged one to 95 descended on Hoxton Square and Old Street today to celebrate London’s first older peoples craft festival. GrandFest, which sold out is hosted by older people’s charity, Royal Voluntary Service, was a new one-day festival celebrating the skills older people possess.

Taking over not just Hoxton Square, but also museums, shops, cafes and bars, the festival featured a series of free masterclasses in skills from preserve making and flower arranging to wood turning and home brewing – each led by talented volunteers aged 70 and over. All 20+ masterclasses were fully booked, prompting anticipation that GrandFest may become an annual event.

Between masterclasses, in the GrandFest hub of Hoxton Square, festival goers were treated to a range of food and drink stands, a pop-up shop and the GrandFest stage, where performers such as Claremont Dancers, Bella Donna and Swing Patrol entertained the crowds.

Participating venues included everything from shops cafes and museums including Geffrye Museum, Pitfield Café, Paperdress Vintage and Barley Mow.

Celebrity Garden Designer and TV Personality Dermuid, hosted a masterclass on potting and planting.

Diarmuid says “I am a huge supporter of Royal Voluntary Service and I’m thrilled to be part of such an exciting event like GrandFest, which celebrates the skills of older people. I really enjoyed my masterclass in and was so proud to be alongside the other GrandMakers”

Jessica Becker, 24 from London, who attended the bread-making class says “When I heard about GrandFest I thought it was such a cool idea, I love the idea of learning something from older people. I booked the class with Clive as I’m not very confident in the kitchen, but I eat loads of bread – it was fantastic, it’s definitely inspired me.”

David McCullough, chief executive at Royal Voluntary Service, said: “We’re overwhelmed with the levels of attendance today – it’s been an absolute testament to the respect and admiration we all have for the incredible skills of this talented group of over 70s. Seeing young people travel here from across London and beyond to join a masterclass speaks volumes. GrandFest has just been a snapshot though. So many of us know a skilled and talented older person from whom we can learn and who we should encourage to keep going with their hobbies. Pastimes are a vital way for older people to stay sharp and active.”

A full round-up of the day can be found on the website: http://grandfest.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/