Christine and The School of Artisan Food

Posted on the 1st June 2019

The School of Artisan Food is a busy, busy place. As a registered charity, not only do we run a diploma in baking and partner to provide a foundation degree in artisan food, but we run short courses in cheese making, charcuterie and many other subjects. We fundraise for bursaries and we aim to embed equal opportunities into everything that we do.

The school is dedicated to promoting healthy eating and a sustainable food system, and it could be said to punch above its weight having only 10 core staff. With everybody working flat out, and cash flow a constant challenge, some important organisational and admin tasks consistently used to get relegated to the bottom of the pile.

The team at the School of Artisan Food

Enter Christine Warburton our helpful, reliable and much-loved volunteer and Trustee.

Chris comes from a background of hard work in coal and steel and a tradition of civic involvement – her family were Salvation Army and her mother volunteered for Oxfam until she was aged 85. Having retired from work as a legal clerk, Chris wanted to put her ‘ordered mind’ to good use and said that sitting at home doing nothing would have been torture. She says that as she had a house and was comfortable, it seemed right that she should do something for someone else.

She “loves being part of a team and looks forward to her days at the School”. She likes being able to take holidays, but most of all she likes knowing that she is genuinely useful to staff and students.

“The admin can get a bit boring, but, even then, it’s satisfying to be doing something necessary; that otherwise wouldn’t have been done,” Chris says of her least favourite part of the role. She loved bringing order to our extensive library, which is now an exciting resource and she enjoys sorting through large piles of feedback forms, extracting valuable information.

Christine with Alison

Chris also volunteers elsewhere, and she has been helpful in widening our local community networks. She has pointed us to just the right people in the social prescribing project where she also works, and she can flag up areas of mutual interest.

What would be her advice for people thinking of volunteering?

“Firstly, be confident in your particular skills and the contribution you could make: I, for example, could never have been one of the School’s volunteer gardeners. Look at the website and be brave when making the first contact. Don’t be put off by opportunities that don’t look perfect; if your sights are too narrow, you might miss out. Be open minded, know who you are and don’t give up too soon, give the post a reasonable amount of time,” she says.

We are a close-knit staff group, working at full tilt. Christine is part of the team, and we feel that it is a privilege that she has chosen to volunteer with us.

Alison Swan Parente

Alison is Founder of the School of Artisan Food and fundraising member of the Board of Trustees.

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