Charity fair at France’s American cathedral

Junior Guild members helping at last year’s Christmas Fair

Charities will benefit when the Junior Guild of the American Cathedral holds its annual Christmas fair on Sunday, November 17.

The American Cathedral is one of the oldest English-speaking churches in Paris and has provided a community for more than 125 years.

It is home to the Paris Choral Society choir but hosts many other activities, including the Junior Guild.

The guild raises money for charities that benefit mothers and children and has members from both the cathedral and the wider Paris community.

It holds monthly luncheons and fundraising events, such as the Christmas fair, plus spring book and flower sales.

Charities supported include Les Enfants du Monde, which helps young people who arrive in Paris from all over the world without their parents.

The charity gives them food, French lessons and helps them find work. It also supports a school in Jerusalem and a charity that supplies milk for babies on the Ivory Coast.

The Junior Guild was set up in 1920 to help refugees in Paris following World War One.

At that time, it was women-only membership and got its name because it was junior to the Altar Guild, which had been set up during the war to give women the chance to help in the church – although the only job the dean allowed them to do was to wash the altar cloths.

In its heyday, Junior Guild events attracted celebrities such as Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor.

British-American-French actress Olivia de Havilland went to the gala in 2010 to celebrate the Guild’s 90th anniversary.

Next October is the guild’s centenary and president, Harriet Rivière hopes to increase membership from 60 to around 100.

Anybody can join, both men and women, and you do not have to be a member of the church. She said: “It appeals to people who want to do something to help others and it is a good social group as well. We try to give help in as many different situations as possible, where we feel we can make a difference. For example, we recently gave money to a charity in Pakistan to help them buy sewing machines so a group could learn to sew.”

The Christmas fair will be held in the cathedral and there will be books on sale; a silent auction, where you can win meals at top Paris restaurants, silk designer scarves and artwork; and a brocante with good quality objects, Christmas cards, decorations, small toys and flowering plants.

For more details contact president – harriet.bob.riviere2@orange.fr  – or treasurer Meredith Salisbury – memesalisbury@gmail.com

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