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An Update from Forest Row Repair Café

An Update From Forest Row Repair Café

Last month, the Forest Row Repair Café celebrated its fifth anniversary.

In its five years of fixing people’s broken household goods, it has saved approximately 2,500 items – from electrical goods to computers to bikes to clothing, jewellery, ornaments, and of course teddy bears – from landfill. In fact, it’s so well-established, it has supported seven other neighbouring towns to open their own repair cafe. Such a huge achievement rightly deserved a fitting celebration.

And so it was that the loyal crew of 30-plus volunteers, five of whom have been involved since the inaugural event back in October 2017, enjoyed a lunch party at the Hartfield Road Community Centre. After what had been one of its most successful events, with some 84 broken items brought in that day (a near-record), the atmosphere was jubilant. Bunting was strung up, a delicious lunch from Tasty Crust in Burgess Hill was enjoyed, happy birthday was sung, birthday cake was eaten, and every volunteer – which, incredibly, spans more than seventy years in age with the youngest being just ten – received a commemorative keyring and beautiful cupcake from Cakes and Bakes in Ashurst Wood.

Actually, you could argue the party started before the Repair Café even ended, when one of the electrical volunteers, Will, finally resurrected an old electric guitar, and belted out the opening strains to AC/DCs Back in Black (appropriately enough), much to the delight of all the volunteers and visitors.

It was a perfect example of what happens at the Forest Row Repair Café. Brought in by family members of someone with a long-term illness, it was not an easy fix, but “Will’s persistence paid off,” said the visitor. Although Will deserves all the credit, this also required a team response in order to locate an amp and extract it from deep within the community centre’s storage – everyone seemed to know about the broken guitar, and a big cheer erupted when those first few notes were played. The guitar’s owner would be “over the moon”, apparently. That is what it’s all about.

Although the Forest Row Repair Café is very much a group effort, it would be nothing without the tireless work of its founder Sara Smart. “I felt very proud to be there five years on, enjoying the company of those who’d been with us from Day One, and seeing the team grow,” she said after the event. “We’re so blessed to have such a committed, dependable team of highly-skilled volunteers sharing their time – people really appreciate that, especially in this economic crisis.” Next year Sara hopes to launch youth repair workshops in Forest Row, where kids can learn the basics, such as sewing on a button and wiring a plug.

The next Forest Row Repair Café will be on Saturday 21st January 2023

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