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Early Early Christmas Fair

Caroline Cary dedicated over 19 years to organising and running the Early Early Christmas Fair (EECF) for The Army Benevolent Fund (formerly ABF – The Soldiers’ Charity), initially as a volunteer and later as the organiser. This beloved event, which had been on the map for over 32 years, became a fixture on the county’s social calendar, drawing VIPs and supporters from across the counties. It provided a unique shopping experience under one roof, attracting over 2000 attendees each year, allowing them to kickstart their Christmas shopping while fostering a sense of community within the Army.

EECF gained popularity over the years and even went virtual in 2020 during the pandemic, serving as a model for other charity fairs to follow and reaching a global audience. In 2022, a special Platinum Jubilee Early Christmas Fair was set to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign and her connection to ABF – The Soldiers’ Charity as Patron and went ahead even after her passing just before the event with a heartfelt determination to celebrate her incredible life and highlighting the remarkable support it received. The fair’s success is rooted in market understanding, diverse stalls, and effective demographic-focused advertising. Over the years, it accomplished four main objectives: fundraising, engaging with the military and civilian communities, raising awareness of the charity’s work, and providing opportunities for networking, supporting local businesses, building community, promoting Army families’ well-being, and showing support for the British Army.


“I want to express my thanks to everyone who have supported me and the fundraising efforts for The Army Benevolent Fund (ABF), not only through the Early Early Christmas Fair but also through various other charitable events in collaboration with ABF. These events have been instrumental in raising crucial funds for the charity and making a significant impact on the lives of those it serves.

Our collective efforts have included organising a sold-out Salisbury Cathedral Concert in aid of Help for Heroes and ABF, featuring renowned artists and personalities like Colin Thackery, Classical Reflection, and more. We’ve also hosted charity lunches at the prestigious Cavalry and Guards Club and Tedworth House Charity Ball, both of which have contributed significantly to our fundraising goals. We even had the privilege of persuading Marco Pierre-White to join us for an ABF fundraiser book signing alongside Kate Philp, a veteran and ambassador for ABF, at The Pear Tree in Wiltshire. This remarkable event served as another testament to our unwavering commitment to the cause and our dedication to supporting ABF’s vital mission.



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