Willow Days Update - 26 June. Postponed Dates, new Enquiries & News.

Willow Days Postponement Update – 26th June.  Postponed April – July Dates, new Enquiries & News.

In addition to all my April – June Willow Day dates, due to the Covid-19 pandemic I have postponed all my July Willow Basket & Animal Sculpture Days.   If you were booked on to one of my five July Willow Days you should have received an email from me earlier in June outlining this decision.
Although over the past few weeks I had been working through options as to how I could try with the changing government guidelines to teach my Willow Days, I’ve concluded that current social distancing measures would not give the best workshop experience, (willow weaving is a very hands on activity!) and unfortunately I’m unable to offer smaller class sizes as my teaching then becomes non-viable.  In addition, I hold my Willow Days at Coates English Willow, which is a private business, but has an on site area open to the public that includes a cafe, shop, museum etc. and our classroom.  Coates have now decided to delay the site reopening in July to anyone other than those who are directly working to keep their 201 year old business alive, and although I so long to be able to teach you, I totally understand their position and want their business to survive too.
I will be transferring all my April – July Willow Day bookings to new September – December dates and to continue to hold my Willow Days at Coates English Willow.  This means that I now have to re-book just over 100 people onto new Willow Day dates this Autumn.  I am hoping to minimise inconvenience by trying as much as possible to make sure that these rearranged Willow Days take place on the same day of the week.  I’m sure that you will appreciate that even with these new Autumn dates there will still be uncertainty and we will have to follow government guidelines.
I am now everyday receiving new enquiries asking about my Willow Day dates for this Autumn.  I’m incredibly grateful to be receiving these!  Though due to my transferring everyone from my April – July dates, I may not now have many further new places available at my Willow Days until January 2021.  If places at any of the deferred Willow Day dates are not filled, in this instance I will be treating these places in the same way as how I currently treat cancellation spaces.  These are usually offered at short notice.  If a cancellation occurs, I show this on my website at www.sarahlebreton.co.uk/courses (current availability can be seen next to each of the Willow Day dates), and I advertise these places on my website News page.  If I get a chance to, I email my waiting/cancellation list, (and sometimes, if time allows, I do try to phone around too!) If you would like to be on this list please do fill in my enquiry form, ask to be added to my MailChimp newsletter list and let me know whether you are interested in weaving an ‘animal’ or a ‘basket’ or ‘both’.
All being well, I will be releasing my January – April 2021 Willow Day dates in October, firstly to my gift voucher recipients, then to my MailChimp newsletter list and following this to the general public.
Please note that from January 2021 I will be focusing upon teaching basketmaking and am not guaranteeing that I will be teaching willow animal sculpture.  For more information please do head to my website news article published on the 13th February at www.sarahlebreton.co.uk/latest-willow-day-dates-courses-news
On a positive note!  I am very grateful to the Heritage Crafts Association who awarded me a Covid-19 grant at the beginning of June.  This grant is assisting me in being able to get through the income gap that I am experiencing, (due to the pandemic I will have lost nearly 1/2 of my much needed teaching income for the year), and be used to help me create a more sustainable business.  In order for my livelihood to survive (and for me to thrive!) I’m now focusing upon the type of willow commissions that I need and want to do.  As a result I’m really excited to now be increasingly undertaking commissions in both willow lighting and furniture.
Included in the HCA grant was an amount set aside for a days teaching with my 4th generation commercial basketmaker Eddie Barnard.  When it comes to my own training up in traditional English basket making, one of the most heartbreaking aspects for me over the past few months has been the thought that I might not be able to be taught by 78 year old Eddie again.  Today though was special, I surprised Eddie by helping to deliver from Coates to his home the willow he needs for the shopping baskets that he will be making for them next.  Although it was so hard not to give Eddie a huge hug, I do now know that he will be teaching me square work hopefully someday very soon.
Please do contact me if you have any enquiries or questions about my Willow Days.  I may not be able to reply immediately, (along with increasing my willow commissions I’m simultaneously homeschooling a 9 and a 13 year old on my own), but I will do my very best to respond to you as soon as I can!

Thank you for all your support, Sarah X