The Hive creates a buzz at Thames Festival

The 2009 Thames Festival this autumn saw more than 800,000 people visit the South Bank for the capital’s largest free festival — a full weekend of music, food...

A partnership with the Thames Festival, now in its fourth year, saw The Co-operative Group at the heart of the event, supporting an innovative arts project, and taking the opportunity to tell Londoners why the Co-operative is ‘Good for Everyone’.

The Co-operative’s support enabled the festival’s team of community artists to work with pupils at 150 primary schools across London in the summer term to create The Hive, a collaborative sculpture project. The piece aimed to raise awareness of the decline in the UK’s honeybee population, a theme chosen following The Co-operative’s championing of the issue through the Plan Bee campaign.

Artists delivered workshops for year five and six pupils at the schools, exploring the importance of bees in pollinating the food we eat, and the threats to their livelihood. Pupils made their own drawings of bees, inspired by anatomical drawings of insects, which were then transferred on to translucent panels to create the five-metre high structure, which was lit from within, creating a dramatic effect.

The festival weekend saw the Co-operative’s Membership team and the family of businesses out on the riverside, spreading the co-operative message using the Co-operative Membership trailer, free health screenings, a prize draw and a shop selling a range of tasty ethical produce from The Co-operative Group.

The Co-operative’s spot on the riverside walkway was in the centre of the festival zone, within the Village Fete area created by the festival team, complete with traditional Punch and Judy and a wooden helter-skelter. Passers-by took the opportunity to sample treats from The Co-operative’s Fairtrade and ‘Grown by Us’ ranges — the perfect complement to the range of exciting international cuisine on offer across the festival site.

Visitors to The Co-operative Membership’s trailer had the opportunity to explore interactive displays relating to the Group’s campaigning and community work. By finding information to answer quiz questions, visitors had the chance to enter a prize draw to win a sustainable canal boat holiday.

Staff from The Co-operative’s businesses, including Funeralcare, Pharmacy, Travel and Financial Services, were on hand to talk to the public and answer a range of queries about the wide range of products and services on offer to customers and members in London.

“We’re delighted to have supported the Thames Festival again in 2009,” said Regional Secretary Owen Jell. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase what makes us a different sort of business — and I’d like to thank everyone from The Co-operative who’s got involved in making this year’s festival a success.

“The schools’ art project has again been a great triumph,” he added. “We’re very pleased to have enabled this co-operative, creative endeavour by over 5,000 London children, which draws attention to a serious subject that The Co-operative has been working hard to highlight throughout this year.”

• This feature is sponsored by the Co-operative Group. 

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