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Hang a little happiness West Woodhay ceramics cottage industry inspired by Dutch heritage

The cottage industry of West Woodhay designers/makers of ceramic hanging decorations, Piet van den Beuken and her husband Monty Abram came to a “shrieking halt” due to the corona pandemic.

So they came up with a novel and charming way for people to say ‘thank you’ to frontline workers and friendly neighbours during the current pandemic – at the same time helping to raise money for charity.

Beautiful hand-painted ‘Corona Angels’ – some wearing protective masks, others with rainbow dresses and each with ‘thank you’ on the reverse – are being lovingly made at the cottage studio of Roelofs & Rubens, run by designer Piet and Monty.

“We thought it would be a lovely way for people to say thank you to our wonderful NHS staff, key workers and others lending us a helping hand whilst helping to raise funds for the NHS Charities Together. We have been amazed by the response to the campaign which we have been running through our website and social media pages over the past few weeks,” says Piet, who has designed, hand-painted and beaded every Corona Angel so far.

“With each sale, £5 is donated to the charity. We are still taking orders for the angels and really hope to make more money for them as a result.”

Roelofs & Rubens started back in 2006 and now the couple run their blossoming ceramics business with a small team of just five local women, helping them to roll and cut the clay, paint designs by hand, fire and then bead each decoration, beforepackaging them up for the customer.

Currently their extensive line of ceramic hanging decorations includes much-loved native flowers, an array of animals, a seaside collection, Christmas decorations and an increasing number of bespoke items for cathedrals, museums and visitor attractions.

These include a number of National Trust Properties and, more locally, Shaw House, Highclere Castle and West Berkshire Museum. Their work is now stocked in gift shops as far north as the Isle of Shetland, as south as the Falkland Islands and most recently they have sent a new batch of bespoke decorations to North Carolina in the US.

Piet has such a passion for her art, which she continues to share with others by running workshops at the West Berkshire Museum, although the pandemic has put a temporary stop to these.

Being proudly Dutch, many of the blue and white painted decorations are influenced by the Delft pottery from her homeland, but there are also many vibrant and colourful pieces available too on their website.

To purchase a special Angel or any of Roelofs & Rubens designs please visit their online shop at www.roelofsrubens.co.uk/shop

Corona Angels cost £12 with free UK p&p and £5 from each sale goes to NHS Charities Together.