August 2016: The Cone Exchange

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Despite began the middle of the summer holidays, the Spa Sweethearts turned out in force for our August meeting. We welcomed Chris, aka Captain Rummage, founder of ‘The Cone Exchange’, a recycling initiative which reaches out to all members of the local community to share resources and provide learning opportunities for all.

Chris started out on the production line of the Betty’s and Taylor’s of Harrogate factory in Starbeck. It was when a group of youngsters from Springwater School were touring the premises that the idea to utilise the waste materials which were the by-product of the goods being manufactured for crafting. A simple request from a young man for the insert of a cotton bobbin to create an angel, led to further requests for the conical shaped object from members of the community. Word of mouth got many youngsters in the locality creating angels and by the time Christmas came, just under 600 had been produced with the waste product and ‘The Cone Exchange’ was born. 

Chris went on to discover that lots of the left over bits and bobs in the factory could be recycled with a little creativity and imagination, and he started to roll out a ‘make and take’ workshop with a pirate theme for local youngsters. His alter ego ‘Captain Rummage’ was born. 

As his scheme gained recognition, other businesses jumped on board to offer the surplus from the manufacture of their products, including wetsuit off cuts, hessian sacks and animal feed lids. The list of random goods and the way in which that can be up cycled into something new and useful is endless! 

The venture now has a shop where members of the public can purchase or exchange craft supplies and a permanent workshop to allow young adults with special needs to create items to be sold for charity.

Chris now works at the charity full time as a facilitator and ambassador, with the support of the parent company where it all started. Chris has been recognised by the Queen for his fantastic initiative, and was honoured with the MBE, which he proudly showed us.

The meeting gave the Sweethearts much food for thought, and encouraged us to pay the exchange a visit for supplies for  our craft projects in the future.

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About Spa Sweethearts WI

A young, fun and diverse 'new wave' WI based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. We encourage women to leave their preconceptions of the organisation at the door and find out what the modern WI is really like. Guests are welcome at our meetings - why not give it a try? Spa Sweethearts WI meets on the second Thursday of each month, 7:30pm, at St George's Social Club, St George's Road, Harrogate.

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