Arabian Nights and Kits by Kids

Last summer we were once again on our way to Germany when we got held up for hours on the M20 in Operation Stack, followed by hours delay at the Eurotunnel.  That night, another refugee had died in the tunnel.  We had enough time to start researching the issue on the internet. Like most other people, we had no idea how bad the situation had become in Calais, and how many refugees had already died in the attempt to get into the UK.  When we finally got to Calais, we saw refugees everywhere.

This trip made my boys think.  Then the images started to appear in the newspapers and on my Facebook timeline: Images of children, caught up in the flight from war-torn countries, cold, distraught and upset.  That’s when Alexander had the idea to set up a fundraising campaign, Kits by Kids.  He wanted to put bags together for these children which shows them that they are not forgotten and remind them that they are still children who should play.

In the following weeks a website and a crowdfunding page were set up, complete with Facebook page and Twitter account.  Alexander was mentioned in the local newspapers and interviewed at a very hour by Emma Britton on her BBC Somerset breakfast show.  People started to donate, and then Claire Lynch of Claire’s Kitchen offered to do a fundraising event at The Combe, the training restaurant at the West Somerset College in Minehead.

The “Arabian Night” was an amazing experience.  A local group of belly dancers entertained the guests, the food prepared by Claire and the students was amazing, and James Fenwick took some great photos.  In the end, the evening raised about £850.00 which has pushed us over Alexander’s initial goal of £1,000.00.

We have now chosen two fantastic projects which we want to support:  HEART ELT is a school project in a refugee camp in Iraq, providing education for children aged 8 to 10.  The other project “Children of Calais” supports children and their families in the horrific camps in Calais and Norther France.  Now it is time to sort out logistics – what to order, when to pack the bags, and how to get them to Iraq and Northern France.

A big thank you to everyone who has supported Alexander and Kits by Kids so far.  We are keeping the fundraising page

open as we hope to provide continued support to both HEART ELT and Children of Calais.


Local business supports hospitality student

Rosemary Overall and Tony O'Shaughnassy from The Culbone.  Photo by Steve Quantick

Last week, West Somerset College’s hospitality student Rosemary Overall was presented with the inaugural The Culbone Scholarship for Hospitality Student of the Year.

Rosemary, who is in her last year at The Combe training restaurant in Minehead, was chosen for her commitment and keen interest, both in the kitchen and front of house.
A few months ago, Tony O’Shaughnassy, the owner of The Culbone on Porlock Hill, had contacted the The Combe to find a way to support outstanding students in the hospitality sector, to help develop young people in an industry which is so vital to Exmoor.  Finally, the idea for the scholarship was born, a suitable student found and the scholarship’s finer details developed.  We are very proud to have been involved in arranging the scholarship and sorting out Rosemary’s trip to London.
“We think that the College’s hospitality course is outstanding. The food prepared by the students is amazing.  We see The Culbone as at the heart of the community, and helping young people excel is very close to our heart,” explained Tony. “Rosemary is a very worthy recipient of our scholarship, and we look forward to catching up with Rosemary in London in September.”
Tony presented Rosemary with a certificate in The Combe in the presence of Paul Gibbs, Acting Faculty Leader, and Werner Hartholt, Chef Lecturer.  The scholarship will take her to the London School for Wine and Spirits in September to do a two-week WSET Level 3 course.  It also covers travel, accommodation, pocket money and dinner with Somerset Life’s Food Editor, Susan Clark, in one of London’s top restaurants.
Paul Gibbs commented: “We are very grateful to The Culbone for their generous support for Rosemary.  Rosemary has impressed us with her dedication and hard work, both in the kitchen and front of house. This course will be of great benefit to her future career.”
The Combe students will join The Culbone team for a special event later this year.IMG_5637