Review of Peter Fagan Collectors Weekend and 80th Birthday Celebration

3 – 4 September 2022, Lady Waterford Hall, Ford, Berwick Upon Tweed

By Rachael Fretter

The annual collector’s event was even more special than usual this year as it was the perfect occasion to celebrate Peter’s upcoming 80th birthday.

Collectors from across the UK and as far as the USA descended upon the pretty village of Ford in Northumberland for a weekend of collecting heaven.  It was also lovely to see a couple of new faces at the event too along with regulars (and a few furry friends courtesy of Chris).

Many collectors arrived in advance and took the opportunity to socialise together whilst others explored the stunning Northumberland scenery.

Proceedings started in the morning in Lady Waterford Hall where collectors had the opportunity to view and collect the special event piece, a standing bear with a bright red ball accompanied by a grey and ginger cat.  Also on display was a special antique bear called Pavlova Bear, accompanied by a miniature version titled Pavlova and Friends.  Pavlova is seated with friends (two cats) and is holding a card displaying a number.  A limited number of these were available, each unique by displaying a different number on the card.  The intention was the numbers would then be put into a raffle to be drawn later in the year.

Also on display were special prizes for the treasure hunt and bingo, but more about those later.

Two collectors were particularly excited to be at the event as it meant they could collect their special commissioned pieces.  These were stunning and resulted in a lot of jealous faces around the room.

Collectors also had the opportunity to buy pieces from their fellow collectors, bears, cats and bonzes were all up for grabs. 

No birthday celebration is complete without a cake so a birthday cake with candles for Peter to blow out was secretly brought out accompanied by a rendition of Happy Birthday led by collector Rachael and followed by the rest of the collectors.  Peter certainly wasn’t expecting that.  We also presented him with a hardback book full of photos and birthday messages from collectors across the globe.

At previous events Peter has demonstrated how to paint a figurine, however this year we were all given the opportunity to sculpt our own cat and bear pieces.  This was great fun and just like being back at school playing with plasticine.  Peter talked us through the steps needed to create something from which a mould could be taken and then cast.  To create a cat various different size balls are needed and are then manipulated to create the cat figures Peter is so famous for.  In terms of the bears it was a similar story but also included a couple of rolls which can be used to form the limbs.

After the fun of the morning it was time for some free time.  Collector and event organiser, Denise White, had produced a treasure hunt around the village of Ford where we had to use the app “what three words” to find answers to the clues on the question sheet.  This was great fun and everyone got involved.  The answers then had to be sent back to Denise where everyone who got them correct was placed into a draw to win a prize at the evening’s event.  

I had travelled to the event with my mum (she always accompanies me), so after the treasure hunt, we decided to head out to Ford and do something a bit different. Having been a regular at past events we know the area well and always look for new things to do.  This time we went to Paxton House, a large palladium property sat on the banks of the River Tweed.  Neither of us had visited before so this was a perfect afternoon treat for mum. An exhibition of doll houses was on display so we went to take a look only to find a couple of teddy bears from the Hopscotch range nestled in the attic of one of the houses. The weather was kind to us so we took a stroll around the gardens and surrounding grounds.

The evening saw everyone return back to Waterford Hall for a hearty meal and more collecting fun.  The winner of the treasure hunt was announced (Sarah) and presented with an updated version of the popular piece Welsh Dresser.

No Peter Fagan event would be complete without a spot of bingo… but with a twist.  Rather than numbers, letters were used to spell out Colour Box cat and bear pieces.  Again prizes were given.

We said our goodnights and headed back to our accommodation.  Mum and I were at the Blue Bell at Crookham which was lovely and only a few miles from Ford so was an ideal location.

After packing up our belongings we headed back over to Ford to say our goodbyes.  This time we all headed to the Horseshoe Forge next to where Peter lives.  This unique building, once an old forge is now an antiques shop full of interesting items.  

As always it was a lovely weekend, great to catch up with collectors and also wonderful to spend time with Peter.  Here’s to the 2023 event!

A massive thank you to Denise White for coordinating and organising all aspects of the event!

Collector’s comments from the event

Denise White, “Just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who came to the event in Ford this weekend. Was so lovely to see everyone again, and we had a jam-packed day that was so much fun. The “mould-along“ session was enjoyed by all and produced some surprisingly good results, (not mine). Sorry that for various reasons some people couldn’t make it – you were very much missed. So thanks once again, you all making it the great occasion that it is”.

Jan Murrock, “As usual Denise, you organised the most fabulous weekend. Loved every minute of it. Thank you so much. Great to catch up with everybody. Already looking forward to the next one.”

Rosemary Ferguson, “It was fantastic thank you”.

Mandi Webb, “Thank you Denise for organising a fantastic weekend, lovely to meet up with everyone again and missed the ones that couldn’t come”.

Nick Foulger, “We really enjoyed this year’s event – thanks so much for all your hard work organising it Denise.”

Pia Robbins, “A big thank you to Denise White for once again organising a fantastic weekend for all of us. We thoroughly enjoyed the meal last night. The caterers had a hard act to follow and they passed with flying colours. As always it was great to meet up with everyone.”