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Last Saturday (15 October) the Performing Arts Centre at Kingston Grammar School hosted the town’s first ever Yoga and Vegan Food Festival, a charity event organised by Kriti Sachdeva of Yogific and her team of volunteers. Admission was just £3 per person (free for children under 12 years) and included the talks, live music and the nine 30-minute yoga sessions, as well as the food and craft stalls. The yoga sessions included one specifically for children.

I had taken a stall, selling my handcrafted cards, jewellery, incense and other gifts. There was a wonderful array of stalls selling everything from cruelty-free cosmetics to tee-shirts and jewellery, vegan and raw vegan food to aloe vera and other ethical and organic products, as well as those publicising Yoga classes for the over 60s, a ‘stop the (deer) cull’ petition, free ‘posture checks’ and chiropractic consultations, reflexology and massage, the list was endless.

An attendance of 200-300 people was expected, but some 500 visitors actually came through the door – many with their colourful clothes and T-shirts proclaiming: “Vegan”, and carrying rucksacks and brightly rolled-up yoga mats, and eagerly browsing the many stalls and chatting with exhibitors, on their way to the classes and talks, and inevitably the event was a resounding success.

Doors opened at 9.15am for the day’s first yoga session and by this time there was already an orderly queue. Food and gift stalls were officially not open until 10.15am, although many exhibitors had finished setting up before trading was set to begin. There are many different styles of yoga available from teachers in the Kingston area, and each 30-minute session enabled visitors to try as many types as they wished.

Vegan and raw vegan food was offered by volunteers of Bhakti Yoga Institute – spicy samosas, chickpea curry with rice, ‘power balls’ (which contained an assortment of nuts), vegan lasagne. I tried some vegetable pakora, £1 for four with a spicy dip.

The Mayor of Kingston, Geoff Austin, and his lovely wife Sheila, and MP for Kingston, Mr James Berry, also attended the event. I met the Mayor as he and Sheila browsed my stall, and he bought one of my Fred and Merlin photo art cards. Fred and Merlin, for those of you who are unaware, are my two cats.

All proceeds from the event were donated to Momentum, which is the Mayor of Kingston’s charitable trust, and an animal welfare charity called Miracle’s Mission.

Founded in 2004, Momentum is an independent Kingston-based charity, which supports children and their families across Surrey and South West London who are undergoing treatment for cancer and other life-limiting illnesses, and at any given time they are supporting over 150 families. Recognising that all families are different, the charity offer support tailored to the needs of each family through their Family Support Programme, which offers both emotional and practical help as well as a variety of therapy services including music, dance and drama. Momentum seek to alleviate some of the stresses that are part and parcel of a demanding treatment plan, by providing trips and treats and respite holidays. They also work closely with local hospitals in order to improve facilities and healing atmosphere during the times children spend in hospital.

Miracle’s Mission was founded in April 2015, and is a UK charity based in Carlisle Cumbria, which aims to protect animals worldwide. The charity was inspired by a stray puppy called Miracle, who was found living on the streets of Borneo. The charity is funded entirely by their own events and by public donations and they receive neither government nor grant funding, and all profits are spent on saving the lives of animals in need and distress.

Miracle’s Mission are setting up their first big project in northern Borneo, known as the Trap, Neuter, Release and Manage Program. In Borneo, too many un-neutered stray dogs and cats are roaming the streets as they compete for too few homes and resources, which has resulted in a population crisis that may only be solved humanely through a neutering program. Constantly competing for food, water and shelter every day means that stray animals lead short and arduous lives that often end in cruelty.

Over 10,000 stray animals wander the streets and by neutering or spaying just one dog it is possible to save the lives of thousands of others being born on the streets. The charity will work alongside local Governments, schools and communities in order to promote the benefits of neutering and spaying and teach people why it is important to care for animals, especially strays who are more vulnerable and in danger of cruelty and violence. Unless urgent action is taken to reduce the number of stray puppies and kittens being born and protect those already in need, many thousands more will spend every day of their lives struggling to survive.

A word or two about a few of the exhibitors.

Panacea Health & Beauty natural health store. Established in 2006 at Kingston-on-Thames, this family-owned business has 5 branches in London and Watford, the Kingston branch is based at The Bentall Shopping Centre. They offer a wide range of the latest products to bring you a natural and healthy lifestyle and have a loyalty card scheme. Products include nutritional supplements, sports nutrition, aromatherapy, homeopathic remedies and herbs, natural and chemical-free cosmetics and skin care, and health foods (including wheat- and gluten-free and lactose-free). The health bar snacks are absolutely delicious! To find out more, visit panaceaonline.co.uk

Food for Thought health food store. Voted Independent Retailer of the Year 2016 in the Kingston Business Excellence Awards 2016, the business sells raw, vegan and vegetarian and ‘free from’ organic health foods, natural skincare and body care, vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements and homeopathy, as well as many of the more unusual products that are difficult to source elsewhere. I was offered a sample pack of BonPom Raw Organic Mulberry Crumble. This is a very versatile sprinkle comprising nothing but Turkish organic dried white mulberries and is a healthy substitute for sugar. It is also ideal for snacking or for sprinkling over ice cream or porridge (perhaps along with some sliced banana or chopped nectarine, for example) or stirring into yoghurt. The local shop premises are based at 38 Market Place, Kingston. Their website is foodforthoughtuk.com to find out more.

RUDE Veganz. A new business launched at the beginning of September, their website is currently under construction. Their quirky products include limited edition hand screen-printed garments, including T-shirts, for all ages, and fashion tote bags. Their products are 100% ethical, fair share, eco-friendly and vegan – style with attitude! Check out their Facebook page fb.com/RUDEVeganz or send a direct message to @RUDEVeganz.

Tropic Pure Plant Beauty. An affordable, natural, vegan and cruelty-free range of skin and body care, sun care, tanning products and cosmetics, backed by Susan Ma and Lord Alan Sugar of The Apprentice. I met Tropic Skin Care and Beauty Consultant Shabari, who has been vegan for over 20 years and looks glowing. The products are available either directly from Shabari or from her online shop and she also offers pamper packages which range from facials and hand treatments to makeovers and brow definitions for a range of special occasions such as office parties, baby showers, hen and pre-wedding pamper parties, along with a variety of gift sets. I tested one of the eyeshadow palettes and found the colours to be ‘true’ – they blended well and smoothly and did not rub off or fade, and a little goes a long way. I particularly like the sparkly silver! To find out more about Tropic or Shabari’s services, follow her on Twitter @ShabariTropic or Facebook fb.com/LoveTropic or visit her website at lovetropic.info.

Saf Life. Raw vegan products certified organic by the Soil Association. The business was established back in 2006, the driving force being to help people achieve their optimum health and wellbeing through holistic nutrition. Some of the snacks are also certified organic. The nutritious products are developed in-house and are packed with flavour. Grab-and-go packaging, ideal for quick and healthy snacking. Gluten- and dairy-free, the products are made at 46oC and are packed with protein and fibre, and contain no refined sugar. Choose from kale crisps (kale tossed in seasonings and then dehydrated for crispness – delicious!), cereal bites (a blend of fresh and dried mixed fruit, seeds, nuts, and superfoods to make a crunchy snack for under 90 calories) and activated crackers (a combination of fresh fruit, vegetables and seeds/nuts) to name a few. To find out more, visit saf-life.com or follow them on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Yogific, organisers of this event, offer Yoga and Bollywood Dance in Kingston, Staines and Egham. To find out more, please visit their website Yogific.com or contact Kriti Sachdeva on 07481 898608 or Yogific@gmail.com