GrandFest celebrates older people’s heritage skills

GrandFest is a one-day mini festival in London's Spitalfields, presented by the charity Royal Voluntary Service, to celebrate the heritage skills of talented older people


GrandFest celebrates older people's heritage skills

GrandFest takes place on Sunday 18th June, where museums, pubs, restaurants and shops around Spitalfields, east London will host a series of masterclasses in skills such as crocheting, bread-making, wood-turning, knitting, cider-making and lace-making, all led by the talented GrandMakers, aged 70 or over to inspire younger generations to discover new skills.

There will also be performers on the GrandFest stage in Bishop’s Square, Spitalfields, including the New Covent Garden Dance Orchestra and retro singing trio The Belladonna Brigade.

According to research from older people’s charity Royal Voluntary Service, millions of Britons over 70 are experiencing the happiest phase of their lives: 63% are happier now than they have ever been and 52% believe they are still in the prime of their life. 52% also worry less about things that aren’t important.

According to the over-70s, action and attitude have an equal impact on their wellbeing. Sharing their secrets to a happy and healthy older age, 89% said keeping their brain active was a priority, while 75% cited having a positive outlook on life. Regular exercise and laughter were also important elements.

Celia Dennis, Crochet GrandMaker at GrandFest, has been a volunteer for Royal Voluntary Service for over two years. ‘Crafts such as crochet are becoming unfamiliar, and I do find it important to pass on my heritage skill to the younger generation. Creating your own clothes or accessories means you can choose the colours, styles and shapes that suit you. At GrandFest, I’ll be demonstrating how to do basic crochet stitches that will give you the confidence and skills to tackle your own projects at home.’

Dian Smith will be hosting quilt making master classes at GrandFest. ‘I’m thrilled to be part of GrandFest this year and passing on my passion for quilting. My masterclass will be all about the process of quilting and how to sew layers of fabric together. Quilting is very useful and once you understand the techniques, you can create beautiful gifts for anyone.’

GrandFest is supported by retirement housebuilder McCarthy & Stone, which is holding a series of mini celebrations across the country. ‘Older people have so many traditional skills to share; skills that we as a nation don’t want to lose,’ says CEO Clive Fenton. ‘That’s what GrandFest is all about. It’s a free, fun event to celebrate talented older people and the heritage skills they can pass down through the generations.’

For more about GrandFest and to book your place on a Masterclass, visit


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