Mary passes on her felt-making skills

Scarborough woman Mary Shinns, pictured, will be teaching the art of felt making at a one-day festival in London.

Presented by Royal Voluntary Service and now in its third year, GrandFest celebrates the craft skills of talented older people. Taking place on Sunday June 18 in London’s Spitalfields, GrandMakers, older people, all over 70 years old, will run master classes to pass on the heritage skills they have learnt and perfected over the years to the younger generation.

The festival is expected to be even bigger and better than last year, taking over nearby cafes, shops and museums with free master classes in craft skills such as spinning, preserve making, jewellery making and wood turning.

Mary’s love of crafts was inspired by her late mother, who was interested in dress making. Mary enjoys knitting, crochet and embroidery but her most recent craft skill to add to her collection is felt work. She enjoys making items and Christmas stockings for family and friends. A former social worker, 79-year-old Mary has always been motivated to help other people. She will be hosting felt work master classes at GrandFest and said: “I enjoy teaching my skills on to others. You can be as creative as you want. I always like to add my own unique style, especially when making my badges!”

David McCullough, Chief Executive of the Royal Voluntary Service, says: “We are pleased to announce GrandFest is back for the third consecutive year, and once again will be a great day full of festivities to celebrate older people and to highlight the importance of keeping active in later life. Last year, GrandFest was a huge success, with hundreds of people booked into master classes to learn a new skill. We are delighted to have Mary on board to pass on her felt-making skills. Mary devotes a great deal of her time to being a Royal Voluntary Service volunteer, and we are proud to call her our new GrandMaker!”

The GrandFest event is being supported by McCarthy & Stone, the UK’s leading retirement housebuilder as part of their 40th anniversary year.

Clive Fenton, Chief Executive Officer for McCarthy & Stone said: “We are delighted to be able to support this truly inspiring event which highlights the many skills we can learn from older people. It will be a great day out for anyone looking to learn a new skill or get some tips from our GrandMakers who have all been practising their skills, such as knitting and wood turning, for many years. For those not able to make the events in London, we will be hosting a series of mini GrandFest celebrations at our developments across the country.”

Royal Voluntary Service supports over 100,000 older people each month to stay independent in their own homes for longer with tailor made solutions. Through its army of 35,000 volunteers, the charity runs services such as Good Neighbours (companionship), Meals-on-Wheels and Books-on-Wheels that alleviate loneliness and help older people. Royal Voluntary Service also provides practical support for older people who have been in hospital through its On Ward Befriending and Home from Hospital services.

For a full list of master classes available or to book a place, please visit: