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Fruit and Vegetable Christmas Market delivers festive cheer to families

The front of Tonbridge School was transformed into a seasonal fresh fruit and vegetable market just before Christmas, as part of its Shop to Share food donation scheme.  

With seasonal music, lighting and a festive atmosphere, the all-day market on Wednesday 22 December, run by School volunteers and their families, supported local disadvantaged families in preparation for the festive period.

Working in conjunction with food banks, charities, schools and social services, families were referred to the scheme and invited to pre-book to visit the market, which provided a little extra support to those wishing to obtain fresh produce ahead of the big day. 

For a £1 donation, guests were able to fill their bags with enough fresh produce for their families to help them enjoy a Christmas feast. More than a hundred local families attended, with more than 400 adults and children coming on site. 

They were able to choose from a huge range of fruit and vegetables. As adults shopped, children were invited to choose a gift for a parent from a fantastic array of toiletries, chocolates and games.

Others chose to decorate a mug using ceramic pens as a seasonal gift, enthusiastically aided by the teenage children of several staff. Hundreds of gifts were wrapped and taken away for children to give to their parents on Christmas morning.

All guests were also able to spend time in an outside café enjoying a hot drink and a mince pie. A festive tombola offered Christmas goodies, including a large number of meat vouchers for Ian Chatfield Butchers of Tonbridge.

In total more than 1,750kg of produce was distributed, including 150kg of potatoes, 140kg parsnips and 65kg of brussels sprouts, as well as onions, cabbages, cauliflowers, melons, satsumas, apples, bananas, grapes, lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers, dates and walnuts.  

Produce was funded by the School and sourced by Robert Smith from Pavilion Flowers on the High Street, who kindly did a special run to the vegetable market and delivered everything to the School. Robert said: “It is fantastic to team up with the School and help ensure local families have access to fresh produce this Christmas, and I am delighted to help.” 

It was a joyous and festive occasion. One young carer added: “Thanks to you, we will get a full Christmas lunch this year, including fresh vegetables and, because I won in the tombola, even a turkey. It is brilliant that it will be a proper Christmas this year. Thank you.”

Marie Wallace, Business Development Manager for Tonbridge School Events, who came up with the idea for the market, said: “It was an amazing event to be part of, and reaffirmed to me the meaning of Christmas spirit”. 

The School would like to thank Robert Smith at Pavilion Flowers, Ian Chatfield Butchers and more than 40 volunteer staff and families, who helped make the day such a festive success.  

Any leftover produce, as well as other food donations both from staff and the main School, was taken to food banks for distribution.

Above and below: Photos taken at the School's Christmas Market on 22 December.

  • Social Responsibility