The City’s annual Red Cross Christmas Market is the capital’s largest fundraising event for the crisis charity and has been a joint venture with the livery companies since the Second World War. Originally a source of affordable Christmas presents for London’s East End, today it mixes luxury with a selection of gifts for all budgets.

The livery companies are part of a charitable tradition in the City dating back in some cases to before 1066. The Guildhall where the event takes place has been the centre of City government since the Middle Ages and is 600 years old this year. The livery companies, charitable confraternities that originated as associations for particular trades such as haberdashery, donate all of the stock they provide to the market for free, and all profits go to support the work of the Red Cross.

The Red Cross helps those in crisis around the world, with national societies in 186 countries and over 20m volunteers globally. Within hours of an emergency, UK response teams can be dispatched anywhere in the world. Less well known is its work in the UK, where the Red Cross provides first aid training, care for those returning from hospital without family or friends to support them and emergency support 365 days of the year. London alone has 1,914 skilled Red Cross volunteers.

This year’s market hopes to raise at least £90,000 to support this vital work. Alderman Andrew Parmley, the co-chairman of the 2011 Market Committee, said: “See the modern day trades and crafts of the Livery in historic surroundings and make Christmas easy by supporting the British Red Cross, a lifeline to the world whenever and wherever a crisis occurs.”