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08th April 2022

£30,000 raised at Cook for Ukraine event at Englefield House

A sparkling evening dinner and drinks event at Englefield House has raised more than £30,000 for The British Red Cross Ukraine Emergency Appeal and Unicef Ukraine.

Organised by Melissa Jones, who runs local catering company The Pop-Up Kitchen, 170 attendees enjoyed an evening of guest speakers, dinner and a raffle on Thursday, March 24th 2022.

They included local businessman Alex Bingley, who told the audience about the van loads of medical equipment he had procured with the help of donations from friends. His Ukranian colleague Igor, who also spoke at the event, was overcome with emotion when explaining how essential life-saving equipment would help his friends and countrymen.

Their van fully laden with essential supplies was on display at the entrance to The Long Gallery and was being driven to the Polish/Ukraine border the following day.

The second speaker Johnny Brooking was the British Army’s senior representative in the Ukraine in 2016/17. He spoke of the beauty of the country, the warmth of its people, and how during his important work he was under permanent surveillance by Foreign Intelligence Services.

Finally, Anglo-Russian mother, adventurer, broadcaster and author Countess Alexandra Tolstoy, gave a fascinating talk about the history of her family and how her father had fled Russia at the beginning of the 20th Century to grow up in exile in England as indeed are her children now.

Alexandra told the audience of the terrifying culture she experienced whilst living in Moscow. She now lives in London and is a single mother to three children. She spoke with eloquence about the loss of the Russia she loves under the current regime and how deeply horrified and saddened she is by the current situation. She is a passionate supporter of peace in Ukraine.

The evening closed with Bucklebury resident Chris Tarrant drawing the raffle prizes generously donated by local businesses, including Royal Berkshire Shooting School, Fifi and Moose Boutique, The Bull Inn, White Coco, L’Interiors, The Bladebone, Rachel Mullins Photography, The Corner Shop, Monksmead Farm, Marlston and Bucklebury Estates, and The Pop-Up Kitchen.

The evening was supported by businesses that donated goods and services, including Caravatti Events, Furniture4events, New Generation Wines, Hatch Mansfield Agencies, Yattendon Estates, Birch Bread, Pangbourne Cheese, The Merry Kitchen, Jane Loves to Cook, and Keppleworth Cooks. The Benyon family was pleased to offer the Long Gallery to support the occasion.

To support the event, visit www.justgiving.com/EnglefieldUkraineEvent.

Photos credit: Phil Cannings for Newbury Weekly News.

Header image: Event organiser Melissa Jones (centre) with Chris Tarrant and his partner Jane Bird.

Image below: Melissa Jones and Countess Tolstoy (centre) along with some of the event organisers.