Young Ladies About Town

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Cakes, teacups and charity

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Young Ladies About Town
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on Wednesday, 24 July 2013
When it comes to fundraising for charity, some people climb mountains, others swim the Channel or run marathons. Emma Way, from Hampshire catering company Taste Food, had an altogether more civilised idea: a vintage afternoon tea. And I couldn’t agree more – who needs sweat when you can have scones?

So I donned a 1940s silk tea dress and hot-footed it to Stockbridge – with the flick of a lace veil – to attend her event in aid of children’s hospice Naomi House. The town hall had been transformed into a soignée vintage haven for the occasion: pastel-coloured bunting on windows and walls, artfully mismatched colourful china and pretty clusters of flowers on the tables and antique sideboards. It was a stylish team effort from the local community, with hand-painted furniture from Fickle Pickle Vintage and sparkling wine courtesy of Cottonworth Vineyards, both a few miles down the road.

Keith Wilson of Naomi House joined our table and told us about the charity’s invaluable work supporting terminally ill children and their families in Southern and Central England. As well as residential respite care, they also provide family and sibling support services, nursing care at home and bereavement counselling.

It costs around £7m a year to run their two specialist units (Naomi House for children and Jacksplace for young adults) and only 10 per cent of their funding comes from the Department of Health. For the rest, they rely on donations and on the fundraising efforts of local people and businesses.

So as I worked my way up the three-tiered cake stand, it was pleasing to know that, for once, I was contributing to something other than just my waistline. Sandwiches, I noted approvingly, were in plentiful supply. It always bugs me when they aren’t, as I prefer to begin my tea on a solid, savoury grounding. Scones – fruit and plain – were warm and perfect, and came with home-made raspberry jam and clotted cream in delicate cut-glass bowls. The third circle of heaven offered a dizzying selection of cakes: fruit tartlets (the superior sort, with tiny dots of crushed vanilla pod visible in the custard), coffee and walnut slices, lemon sponges as light as a cloud. All washed down with copious Earl Grey – we loved the knitted tea cosy with ribbon trim – and a glass of crisp, refreshing sparkling rosé.

On our way out, we caught up with Emma, who had pulled out all the stops for her first charity event. Rushing between sittings, she was delighted with the event’s sell-out success, and told me she hires out the divine mis-matched china… I can see a prohibition party coming on, with gin cocktails poured out of teapots, all proceeds going to a worthy cause. For which I will need a twenties flapper dress, of course – but that’s a story for another day.

To make a donation visit 

Words by Juanita Coulson
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