How old are you both and how long have you lived in Alton?

Dawn is 80 and Sheila is 75. Neither actually live in Alton but they have both spent a lot of time here because they worked on the Friday market for more than 30 years and only stopped when it closed in 2016.

What made you choose the Alton Friday Market?

When Dawn retired at 59, she took up making calendars and cards and was looking for a place to sell them. She set up a stall at the Friday market and was soon recruited to bake cakes for the next door cake stall. The rest is history as she is still baking cakes for local outlets today. 

This week alone she has baked 62 large cakes and 180 cupcakes. She is donating the cupcakes to the Sebastian’s Action Trust and still has more than 100 to bake before Easter.

Sheila worked in Sainsbury’s for 20 years and one day was asked to cover the flower stall for two weeks while her friend went on holiday. 

Before long, she found herself making preserves – jams and chutneys – for the preserve stall and gave up her job at Sainsbury’s to focus on that for more than 30 years. Even though her preserve making days are over, she still makes her speciality pickled onions for friends and family.

What do you like most about Alton?

Despite the fact the Friday market has closed, both ladies still come to Alton regularly to meet the friends they made while working there. They both say they find it a very friendly town with all the shops they need and are very pleased not to live too far away.

Tell me a little bit about your favourite time in Alton?

They agree their mornings working at the monthly farmers’ market were their favourite times. They used to share a stall and enjoyed the chatting to the customers. 

The atmosphere was always cheerful and they got to know the other stall holders and enjoyed the banter and camaraderie.

Both agree the best morning was one February in the early 2000s when it was minus ten degrees. It was so cold they had to jiggle on the spot constantly to prevent frostbite setting in. But it was a beautiful sunny morning and the Altonians were out in force. There were so many people there they sold out of their produce within hours.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

Sheila feels the world has been in turmoil since lockdown and hopes it will soon settle down. She feels people generally are becoming less tolerant and dreams for a more peaceful future for everyone. 

Dawn fully concurs with this but also hopes they both stay well and active so they can continue coming to Alton on a regular basis to visit the Tuesday market and meet up with their friends.

For further information about the Anna Chaplaincy, call Kate Powell on 07539 026546.