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Grace's Pawfect Pitch Leads Her to National Final

A young artist and entrepreneur who ran her own stall on the Council’s second young traders market is in with a chance of being crowned national “young trader of the year” and winning a cash prize of £500.

Grace Hancock, from Basford, has made it through to the socially-distanced finals of the Young Traders Market competition, run by the National Market Traders Federation (NMTF), which will see her market her wares along with 45 of the best young traders from across the country at Waterside in Stratford-upon-Avon today (Friday, 28 August) and tomorrow (Saturday, 29 August).

Young people are invited to run their own outdoor pitches in Newcastle in the first stage of the annual initiative by the NMTF – the only national UK organisation representing market traders – which aims to encourage more 16-30 year olds to consider incorporating market trading into their business model.

While the Covid-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of nine regional finals earlier this month, the traders involved were judged remotely by a panel of retail market experts and Grace, who creates and sells patchwork pet portraits under her brand Cushy Paws, received a highly commended award in the arts and crafts category and will now go on to represent the West Midlands this weekend.

The award-winning designer set up Cushy Paws in 2017 after graduating from Loughborough University with a First Class Honours degree in Textiles & Innovation Design. Her range includes personalised pet portrait commissions, mugs, prints, tea towels, tote bags, wall-hangings, cushions and greetings cards. 

Grace, aged 27, said: “I’m delighted to have been highly commended. As I’m from Newcastle myself, it was really great to be part of the market in July and I hope to come along again. I enjoyed the day and sold more than expected. The organisers were really helpful and it’s got a lot of potential. It’s a lovely little town.

“I hope to do the West Midlands proud at the national finals this weekend. I’m really excited, as well as nervous, and I’m looking forward to trading in such a nice place.”

Cllr. Stephen Sweeney, Cabinet member for finance and efficiency, added: “The Council is delighted to be involved in this fantastic competition once again. It’s a brilliant way to give talented young people like Grace the opportunity to try market trading while offering something different to our visitors. I wish to congratulate Grace on her achievements and wish her the best of luck in the finals.

“We’re currently putting a great deal of effort into breathing new life into Newcastle’s historic market and it’s recognised that attracting new traders, especially young ones, is one way of doing this.”

Last updated 28 August 2020

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