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Bury St Edmunds hosts first ever East of England finals of the NMTF Young Market Trader of the Year competition




Young traders from across the East of England gathered in Bury St Edmunds this week to showcase their skills on the market.

Eighteen stall holders, aged between 16 and 30-years-old, displayed a range of goods from jewellery to gin, homeware, arts and crafts, fresh flowers and vegetables.

They were competing in the first ever Eastern regional final of the national Young Trader of the Year competition, run by the National Market Traders Federation (NMTF).

The winners will now go on to represent the region in the the national finals, later this month.

Competitors arrived for the day from all over the region including Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex.

Arts and crafts category, and overall contest winner: Ruth Lea, of Bluebell Lane Jewellery (Framlingham)
Arts and crafts category, and overall contest winner: Ruth Lea, of Bluebell Lane Jewellery (Framlingham)

Towns and villages represented include Bury St Edmunds, Mildenhall, Culford, Newmarket, and Diss.

Overall winner of the event, held on Wednesday, was Ruth Lea, 29, of Framlingham, who runs Bluebell Lane Jewellery, which also won the arts and crafts category.

She makes Ecosilver jewellery, made from melting down metals such as scrap jewellery and medical equipment.

"When you buy something that has been made from recycled silver, there has been no extra mining or human exploitation in involved in the sourcing of the silver," said Ruth.

"Ecosilver is a sustainable and environmentally friendly way to make and wear jewellery with a clear conscience."

General Retails category winner: Samuel Green of Bethmonte Limited (Culford)
General Retails category winner: Samuel Green of Bethmonte Limited (Culford)

Highly commended in this section were Sophie Clarke, 24, of Sophie Clarke Design, from Mildenhall, who has just launched her business making homeware.

Also receiving a highly commended award was Sophie Aris, 20, from Bury St Edmunds, who decorates glassware as well as making her own decorative scented waxes for her stall called Hand Made Galore.

Most of the young traders already have a strong online presence selling on a range of platforms from Facebook, to Etsy and Depop.

Arts and Crafts High Commended: Sophie Clarke, Sophie Clarke Designs (Mildenhall)
Arts and Crafts High Commended: Sophie Clarke, Sophie Clarke Designs (Mildenhall)

The judges for the event were made up of representatives from West Suffolk Council, Our Bury St Edmunds and Suffolk News.

The food and drink category was won by Holly Carr-Maskell, 26, from Dalham, for her stall, Dear Love Limited.

Holly makes gin at the mill her family has owned for generations and is a regular at markets.

Arts and Crafts High Commended: Sophie Aris of Handmade Galore (Bury St Edmunds)
Arts and Crafts High Commended: Sophie Aris of Handmade Galore (Bury St Edmunds)

The General Retail category was won by Samuel Green, 23, from Culford with his show repair and key cutting business, Bethmonte Limited.

At the moment he runs the business from a workshop and trades mostly online.

Highly commended in this section were, George Lawrence, 24, of Hazel Nurseries, Outwell, Cambridgeshire - a regular on Bury St Edmunds market, as is his father, and grandfather before that.

Also highly commended was Olivia Washington, 28, of Olivia's from Braintree, Essex, selling a range of weird and wonderful fabrics and haberdashery supplies.

Grocery category winner: Billie Wilson of Wilson's Fruit & Veg (Bury St Edmunds).
Grocery category winner: Billie Wilson of Wilson's Fruit & Veg (Bury St Edmunds).

The grocery category was won by, Billie Wilson, 18, of Wilson's Fruit and Veg, of Bury St Edmunds.

Billie, who has working on Bury St Edmunds market since the age of 12, said: "My dad has run his fruit and veg stall here for 35 years, so I started on that.

"I have set up my own in the last two months.

"We joke we're in competition."

Food and Drink category winner: Holly Carr-Maskell of Dear Love Limited (Dalham)
Food and Drink category winner: Holly Carr-Maskell of Dear Love Limited (Dalham)

All eight winners, made up from of the four category winners and four highly commended, will go through to the national finals in Stratford-upon-Avon on August 27 and 28.

Joe Harrison, the NMTF chief executive, said: "The idea is to get young people to consider market trading as a career.

"Most of the household names on the high street started their businesses from a market stall and it is a genuine opportunity develop retail skills and an easy entry level into entrepreneurship."

Arts and Crafts Highly Commended: Olivia Washington of Olivia's Curiosities (Braintree)
Arts and Crafts Highly Commended: Olivia Washington of Olivia's Curiosities (Braintree)

"It has been a great day."

West Suffolk Councillor Susan Glossop, cabinet member for growth, and one of the judges, said: "We have had a very good set of competitors and some very very good results.

"It's great to see young entrepreneurs, and young people wishing to trade on our market, which is always very popular with the both traders and the community.

Regional finals are held in six locations around the country.

Highly commended, George Lawrence, Hazel Nurseries (Outwell).
Highly commended, George Lawrence, Hazel Nurseries (Outwell).

The are some 1,400 markets in the UK as a whole, according to the NMTF.

Flick through the gallery below to see some of the other East of England stall holders who took part on Wednesday.

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