Christmas market-themed charity event organised by AIEA brings festive cheer

Music, lunch and a shopping experience offers respite for women and children who have survived domestic abuse.

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A festive event supporting the charity Solace Women’s Aid brought much-needed respite and festive cheer for vulnerable women and their families.

The Christmas shopping and lunch event was held at Friends House in Euston, central London on Monday morning and was organised by members of the Alliance of Independent Events Agencies (AIEA).

Around 150 women and children arrived at 11am and were welcomed before being handed bags with vouchers so they could shop at the Christmas market themed experience.

Anna Johnsson from Team Umbrella said: "Probably one of the most joyous highlights of the day, was seeing 20 young children on stage, singing and dancing to a special carol they had collectively written to thank the AIEA – and especially to see the pride on their mothers' faces.

"The feedback from our guests was extraordinary. The women and children who attended could not believe how much they had been thought of and how special we made them feel. Some of the feedback almost brought us to tears a few times."

A raft of agencies and suppliers all pitched in on the day running stalls with clothes, toys, cakes and treats on sale.

Others were also waitressing, washing up and all the backroom work - to make sure the day went off without a hitch.

Singer Megan from Successful Events serenaded the shoppers with Christmas pop classics.

At noon, the esteemed guests were welcomed into the dining room where Sam McNeil and Tom Billington from Songdivision continued the festive songs.

Christmas mocktails were served, Santa’s Grotto was opened and children’s corner was led by Debbie Beresford from Hatch Events.

Chris Walls from Events2 dressed up as Santa and MC’d before an official welcome from Paula Kelsey from Cloud9 and Anna Johnsson from Team Umbrella.

Food was then served before a raffle draw and a Twelve Days of Christmas singalong.

Paula Kelsey from Cloud9 said: "As event professionals, we are extremely fortunate and most of us get to travel and experience things that some can only dream of. So this year the board at AIEA decided to do something for those less fortunate.

"All charities are doing a fantastic job but we decided to go for a couple of charities that may be less well known, and that really struck home with us. Solace and The Nia Project, both rescue and help with women from sexual and domestic abuse rebuild their lives."

Suppliers who helped put on the event included Melia International, Dorchester Collection, Great Hotels of the World.

There was also a huge effort from Leonardo Hotels, Wildfire and Trident Hospitality.

Agencies included Cloud9 supplying jewellery, SG venues on handbags, Clearcut Venues on children’s clothes and shoes, Venue Seekers on adult shoes, while Team Umbrella was on small gifts.

Inception events was on Christmas crackers and party novelties, Lime Blue Solutions on food donations, Nexus Venue was on toys and books, to name just a few of the long list of agencies involved.

You can find more information on the charity Solace Women's Aid here.

"The whole experience was wonderful and our families felt special. One of the mothers told me this was her first Christmas lunch ever," a Solace Women's Aid spokesperson added.

"It brought tears to my eyes to see families having so much fun, the staff went above and beyond entertaining the children and serving families. One of the women commented that she felt like royalty. This morning I’ve just been asked by a child can we go again!"

In the run-up to the event, members were busy collecting, cajoling and reaching out to as many people as possible to make the Christmas Charity event a success.

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