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Largest charity book fair comes of age in Epsom

22 February 2019

Epsom Methodist Church

THE largest charity book fair in England and Wales celebrated its 18th birthday this week.

When the Epsom Charity Book Fair opened its door to the public at Epsom Methodist Church yesterday, an estimated 80,000 books had been sorted and laid out for sale by more than 200 volunteers. The fair runs until 4 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday.

The fair was begun in 2002 to help raise funds for a £2.8-million development project at the church, making it more accessible to community groups. Now, it is used for activities that range from Scouting to Pilates, belly-dancing, and toddlers’ rugby.

In the first year, the organisers raised £2000, and realised its potential for further fund-raising. Last year, it made £37,688.

Jacqui Raggett, who has been one of the organisers from the beginning, explained this week that the fair could not happen without the support of volunteers who are attached to other charities. In return for their involvement, those charities receive a portion of the takings.

More than 100 trestle tables are used, and the books are laid out in used cardboard fruit-boxes. The first wave of volunteers sorted the donations into categories: fiction, biography, history, etc.; and, last weekend, a second tranche subdivided the categories, arranging the fiction alphabetically by author, sorting the history into periods, etc.

Another group of volunteers has been researching the prices of books that volunteers have picked out, which are priced at £20 and upwards. On Wednesday evening, the organisers arranged a preview for about 80 dealers and collectors. One of the books this year was a second edition of Animal Farm by George Orwell, priced at £100.

The organisers expect about 3000 to attend over the three days.

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