Mayor of Salisbury, Cllr Atiqul Hoque made a welcome return to Salisbury Repair Café (SRC) on Saturday, 17th June to formally greet the 1,000th visitor to the popular local community project.
As a member of the official ‘ribbon cutting’ party at the grand opening of the Repair Café back in November 2019, Cllr Hoque was the natural choice to mark this special milestone for the volunteer-led collective at their latest event held at Bemerton Methodist Church.
June’s event was the 26th successive gathering of local volunteer sewists, sparks, bike mechanics, crafters, carpenters, bookbinders, bakers and a supporting cast of dedicated helpers.
From bikes to books, dolls to Dysons, and jumpers to jewellery – yet again, local people eagerly took up the Repair Café’s foundational challenge: “Don’t bin it until we’ve tried to fix it!”
As always, a hard-working and cheerful hospitality team were on hand to keep repairers and visitors alike refreshed with cups of tea and generous portions of home-made cake.
From its beginnings as the brainchild of co-founders Benji Goehl and Jimmy Walker back in the autumn of 2019, SRC has carved out an important role in the local community, and the 1,000th visitor to the project is typical of the many local people it has served during the past four years.
Christine Taylor travelled to the Repair Café from nearby Idmiston after hearing about the project from a friend. She was absolutely delighted with the repairs made to her bike but a little shocked to find she was the 1,000th visitor to the Repair Café.
After being presented with a commemorative certificate and handcrafted cloth badge featuring an embroidered ‘1000’ motif by the mayor, Mrs Taylor said: “It’s a wonderful community project and a great way to give old household items a new lease of life instead of going to landfill.”
After presenting Mrs Taylor with her award, the mayor gave a brief but highly entertaining speech. Cllr Hoque told the story of a chance encounter with SRC co-founder Jimmy Walker in the streets of Salisbury during the summer of 2019, recalling that: “Jimmy was cycling past my restaurant as I was leaving and he stopped for a chat. He told me about his ideas for a repair café and I absolutely loved the sound of it. I was chair of Wiltshire Council’s Salisbury Area Board at the time, so I urged Jimmy to apply for some community start-up funding and the rest, as they say, is history!”
The mayor also made his first ‘civic commission’ during the visit. Cllr Hoque was so impressed by the hand-made embroidered badge awarded to Mrs Taylor that he asked about getting one for himself. Elaine Walker-Gunns, the SRC treasurer, has passed the mayor’s commission onto her very talented mum, who produces the bespoke name badges worn by members of the volunteer group.
The Mayor’s badge will feature a ‘762’ motif in recognition of his position as the 762nd mayor of the City of Salisbury.
Later on, the mayor chatted with SRC organisers Jono Byrne and Kathy Cininas to discuss future plans for the Repair Cafe. Kathy, who takes on much of the organisational effort to keep the Repair Café going each month, said: “It was such a pleasure to welcome the mayor back today and show him how we’ve built on his support for us.
“I’m so proud that we’ve been able to fix over 650 individual items for local people, but our wonderful team of volunteers is just getting started. Their generosity and friendliness is the beating heart of the café, and they are building something really special in the heart of our city.
“If you’re thinking of joining us, please do email me at: email@example.com”