We did it! Our Suffolk Cooks For Ukraine dinner and auction raised an extraordinary £20,000 for the DEC’s Ukraine Appeal and donations are still coming in. An outstanding result, if I say so myself, for two weeks (frenetic) planning and one night in a room full of amazingly generous and compassionate people.
It was a colossal team effort, with chefs Nicola Hordern and Maria Elia at the helm, backed by myself and fellow journalist Tessa Allingham and a volunteer kitchen brigade made up of professional chefs Nick Claxton-Webb. Alan Paton, Harvey Thompson, Mike Keen, Grant Newland and Sam Sturman.
Suffolk New College gave us the venue, Chef’s Whites Restaurant, the inexhaustible skills and enthusiasm of staff members Mike Mulvihill, Dan Russell-Poole, Aimee Jay and Zoe McKechnie and the invaluable front and back of house help of its talented students. We couldn’t have done it without them.
Ingredients and drinks were donated by a host of exceptional Suffolk producers and suppliers for a four course feast of Ukrainian-inspired food based on recipes from Ukrainian food writer Olia Hercules, who with her Russian friend Alissa Timoshkina, began the #CookForUkraine fundraising campaign.
The evening ended in an auction led by Ed Crichton of Lacy Scott auctioneers, which raised thousands of pounds above the original ticket price, thanks to the generosity of donors and bidders. Every penny will go to the DEC.
It is honestly humbling to see how powerfully people are responding to Ukraine’s plight. There were a few tears in the run-up to the big night, not all of them due to exhaustion. I think I can speak for all of us when I say how moved we have been by the way everyone stepped up, turned out and dug deep.
But pictures, like actions, famously speak louder than words and these photographs from Richard Allenby-Pratt, who also volunteered his skills, brilliantly echo the mood of the event. Thank you to everyone who took part in whatever capacity.
The money we’ve raised together will help alleviate the suffering of some of the three million people who’ve fled Ukraine and, we hope, some of the many millions more still in the country.