The snowy weather didn’t stop members of the Harrogate Borough, and Ripon Fairtrade Groups celebrating the successful achievement of Yorkshire becoming the first Fairtrade Region in the UK. In fact the deep layer of snow was most helpful in chilling the Fairtrade champagne with which the group toasted the success of the campaign!
The group chose to raise their glasses outside Harrogate Pump Room as one of Yorkshire’s iconic landmarks.
Carmen Sawers, Chair of Harrogate Borough Fairtrade Group, said “We are delighted to celebrate this achievement. Harrogate has been known for the health-giving qualities of its spa water for nearly two centuries, despite the interesting taste! The Fairtrade champagne leaves a better taste in your mouth, not just the obvious one but because of the life-changing result brought to the producers by receiving the benefits of a Fairtrade price. Fairtrade products definitely include a health-giving quality.”
The official declaration on 18th January this year marked the culmination of three years’ work by campaigners and traders across Yorkshire, and recognised the enormous support for Fairtrade across the region. The campaign received the support of Yorkshire bishops, sportsmen and sportswomen, schools, universities, faith groups, MEPs, Councils and artists including Ian McMillan, the Bard of Barnsley. Support came from MPs including George Galloway, Hilary Benn, Rachel Reeves and Greg Mulholland, who tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament supporting the campaign. This has so far received the signatures of 27 MPs including the York-born David Davis.
The group included Harrogate & Knaresborough MP, Andrew Jones, who said: “Becoming the first certified Fairtrade Region is a fantastic achievement. Everyone who’s bought, sold or supported Fairtrade anywhere in Yorkshire has contributed to this – the support really has been amazing, from Harrogate to Hull, Ripon to Rotherham. It just shows how caring Yorkshire folk are.”
The success of Fairtrade products has been a phenomenon, defying the downturn and growing to sales worth £1.32bn across the UK in 2011. By providing a guaranteed minimum price for products, Fairtrade provides dignity and security to producers and helps communities lift themselves out of poverty all over the developing world. Over 4,500 products are now bear the Fairtrade Mark, which is certified by an international network of foundations.