Giving Something Back!
Posted by Paul Hargreaves on
The trouble is at Cotswold Fayre we can never do things by halves. We now find ourselves organising a massive event in the summer on top of everything else we are doing relating to the business
Look out for the Cotswold Fayre “Summer Charity Ball”. Wholesalers turned event organisers! For those of you that don’t know let me explain how we arrived here!
The foundation of Cotswold Fayre is firmly connected to the charitable sector. I started the business whilst involved in voluntary charitable work in the heart of the inner city – Deptford, South-East London. Quite simply I ran out of money, and started selling speciality food from the Cotswolds to local shops in order to run my car and feed my kids! From there the business grew, moved to Reading and the rest is obvious really – I won’t bore you here! However, I was still keen in the early days not just to make money (although we didn’t do that in the early years), but also to have an emphasis on “putting something back”.
So we took on 2-3 people in the early days who came from the local drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre. At least one of these guys turned his life around which was very pleasing to see – this was after the initial hiccup of getting 6 speeding tickets in his first three weeks. I bundled them altogether in an envelope, wrote to the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police explaining his background and that we were trying to give him a fresh start, and never heard any more. Someone up at police HQ clearly believed in what we were doing and discretely deleted them off their records!!
In later years this emphasis of the business had reduced, so in 2010 I was looking for a new initiative that we could get behind as a company and put something back into the world community. Ideally I was looking for a food-related charity and one where we could not just give money but also get involved. I contacted several but whilst they were all keen to have money none of them were offering any opportunities for us to get our hands dirty. Then I remembered there was a group of people in the Cirencester area (where I live) that had been almost 100% supporting an orphanage in Kenya – the Bala Orphanage.
I knew the trustees and, of course, they were more than happy for us to get involved in any way we could. Initially we starting by supporting on a monthly basis a child for each member of staff at Cotswold Fayre – now 30+. Last year I went out there to look at what was required in terms of future development and volunteering opportunities and last year we also (with the help of our suppliers) raised the money for an irrigation project. We are planning on getting a team out there next year.
One member of our team, Holly, completely out of the blue decided that she wanted to do something for the orphanage, and so the idea for the Summer Ball was born. Holly just for a short time this year had cut her days down from 3 to 1 so he could spend some time with her daughter before she starts school, but I suspect she is working those extra two days on the ball. Invitations for tables and tickets are soon to be printed, and I look forward to several of you joining us to make a difference in Africa! More to follow soon!
Have a great week!