A woman from Kendal has come up with a way of raising money for the NHS while helping local businesses get through another lockdown.
Louise Phillips, from Kendal, started a virtual Christmas Fair on Facebook where stallholders donate £10 to the NHS to participate.
The group took off with interest from small businesses and crafters from all over Cumbria and now has more than 200 stalls and 7000 customers.
Many businesses have also donated a percentage of their sales too. Over £2,000 has been raised for the NHS - which helped treat Louise's son Bradley when he was seriously ill with sepsis.
Louise, 38, said: “I am completely blown away by how this has taken off.
I have been inundated with amazing messages from the small businesses taking part – some have lost their day-to-day jobs due to Covid and are turning to craft fair like ours to focus on something positive and to provide for their families.
Shortly after Louise gave birth to Bradley, both mother and father became seriously ill - Louise contracting bacterial meningitis and Bradley suffering from sepsis. Both recovered well at Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
The NHS then treated Bradley again two years later when he ended up on a life support machine after returning from a family holiday.
Louis says she owes "everything" to the NHS.
Many of the stallholders at the fair are getting creative and are partnering up to deliver the perfect Christmas present ‘packages’.
Sandra Rodrigues runs ‘Begin with Nature’, a small business that produces bath and body products, based in Kendal. She said: “I was invited by a friend to join this fair and I am very glad I did!
"Not only is it helping my business through lockdown, it is also making me feel good for contributing to such an amazing cause.”
Lin Dean from Heysham runs ‘BytheBay’, a business that sells items made of local driftwood. She said: “I cannot thank Louise enough for all her hard work which is not only raising thousands for the NHS, but has also given a lifeline to lots of small businesses – including mine. We have all been hit hard by Covid-19.
"Craft fairs have been non-existent this year and I personally resigned myself to a very sorry end to the year. But signing up to this wonderful virtual fair has not only given me the best Christmas sales since starting my business six years ago, it has also enabled me to make a contribution to a very worthwhile cause.”
Geoff Hall lives in Garstang and turned his hobby of woodturning into a small business when he retired due to ill health.
He said: “I use my love of woodturning to help control the effects of depression. I normally do about 10 craft fairs a year and help run a country Market in Garstang which is shutting its doors permanently this year.
"This fair has sent my sales rocketing and has gone a long way to help pay for my addictive hobby. I have had a website of my own for a good 12 years and have made more in 2 weeks in this fair than on my website in all the time I've had it.”
The Virtual Fair will run up until 21 December 2020. You can visit the fair by searching for ‘Virtual Christmas Fair – NHS Fundraiser’ on Facebook.