Jam, Marmalade and the Children’s Hospice South West
Question: What have these three things got in common?
Answer: Our guests have raised over £2200 to support the local children’s Hospice by buying small jars of our jam and marmalade.
As a family business, we have always tried to work with and support other local businesses. By doing so we have met many interesting people in the area, since we took on our first guest house in 2002. We have worked consistently to eliminate the use of packaging and present our foodstuffs and our toiletries so that guests can use as much as they would like, without leaving a trail of opened containers and unfinished contents.
And this is how we came across Simi, who makes all our jam. Simi is from Tabriz, an Azeri region in Iran, where they have a long tradition of preserving. About six years ago, soon after arriving in Bath, on an autumnal Bath Skyline walk she happened upon a plum tree. She and her husband picked a rucksack full. When they got home, they ate a few (as you do!), then made a plum crumble to take to friends that evening. The next day Simi still had quite a lot of plums left over so made some jam, which she shared with her friends in Bath. Since then she has foraged, grown her own fruit or works in conjunction with Eades the local Greengrocer to produce her jam, who co-incidentally supplies all our fruit, tomatoes and mushrooms for our yummy guests’ breakfasts.
For us at Three Abbey Green, one of the great things about sourcing local homemade preserves from Simi is that we are never sure what delightful new concoctions will be presented to us next. Whatever is in season Simi can take from bush to jar to the breakfast table in no time flat. “Generally I make the jam within 24 hours of the fruit being picked,” says Simi. “We don’t have a freezer or a car, so I pick what I can carry home, then I deliver the finished product on foot.”
Simi has come a long way from her early days in Bath foraging plums. Simi’s website www.simiskitchen.co.uk is full of delicious recipes as well as information about her cookery classes and workshops.
Our story starts before Simi though. We were looking for someone to make marmalade for us. We didn’t have to look far – Derek volunteered his sister, Cherry. Fortunately she had just retired, so had a little extra time to help us. As soon as we began serving Cherry’s marmalade at breakfast, the guests wanted to take some home because it was so scrumptious. We got into the habit of ordering some large jars for the guest house and some small ones for the guests to purchase.
We knew from the off with Simi that we would need to order small jars for our guests to buy. And here’s where our guests have been so fantastic. Sue has a long history of working in the voluntary sector. She suggested that all the proceeds from selling jam and marmalade should go straight to the new Children’s Hospice at Charlton Farm in Wraxall near Bristol. As a family we agreed to donate the cost of making the small jars to the charity, so that Children’s Hospice South West would get all the money the guests gave us when they made their purchases. So far this is over £2200.
At Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW), the aim is to help and support children and their families who are living with life-limiting conditions. Some go there for palliative care, some for emergency care, many for planned respite and a rare opportunity for a break. Of course, there is also help with end-of-life care. The Hospice provides a loving and caring place for every member of every family who stays. It’s a sanctuary for Mums and Dads, brothers and sisters, who can feel isolated, scared and confused when there is a seriously ill sibling at home.
The Hospice is a fantastic place, often filled with joy and laughter, a place where families feel safe because they are with people who understand what they are going through and qualified staff on hand to support them. In an ideal world, this service would be funded by the tax payer but we all know that the NHS does not have sufficient funds to support all its services. CHSW receives ONLY about 15% of its’ annual running costs from the government – and this figure is variable and NOT guaranteed. The Hospice is totally reliant on public fundraising activities for the remaining 85%.
As a family, we have been so blessed in having healthy children and grandchildren. Sue’s seven years in Liverpool where she set up and managed the Ronald McDonald House at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital made her acutely aware how many families are not so fortunate. With the help and support of our generous guests, we will continue to do all we can to help a little bit. For more information about the amazing work of Children’s Hospice South West, please go to www.chsw.org.uk