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North East hospitality sector unites to raise awareness of mental health
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Restaurateurs, chefs, food suppliers and the hospitality sector across the North East came together to raise awareness of mental health.

Terry Laybourne’s 21 Hospitality Group recently organised and hosted a sector-wide evening of entertainment and five-course dinner to raise money to help combat mental health.

More than £10,000 was raised for mental health charity Mind North East from ‘Bobby’s Dinner’ held at 21 restaurant on Newcastle’s Quayside.

Dozens of 21 staff members, along with head chefs from restaurants within the 21 Hospitality Group offered their time for free to entertain the 120 guests.

Terry Laybourne said: “Mental health is very topical across our sector right now; many people are talking about the challenges of working in high-pressured jobs; we decided to do something about it and were overwhelmed by the response.”

The special event received generous support from many suppliers to 21 Hospitality Group including Bidfood, Berkman Wine Cellars, Delifresh and Crosbys.

Nick Shottel, operations director at 21 Hospitality Group, explained that the idea for the dinner was prompted when he and Terry Laybourne heard about the fundraising activities of one of their young chefs, Bobby Smail.

He said: “Bobby has been a valued member of our kitchen team at 21 since July 2013. After losing his brother to suicide in 2017, Bobby has been fundraising for Mind to raise awareness of mental illness.

“He has taken part in a 24-hour hike at the Eden Project and in September took part in this year’s 24-hour hike in the Scottish Highlands for the same cause. We were keen to help raise funds to assist people in overcoming mental illness, which sadly, is so prevalent in our industry.

“As an industry we’re often too busy looking after the wellbeing of our customers and less mindful of ourselves and our people, who may at times struggle to cope with the rigours of high-pressured and demanding jobs.”

The evening fundraiser attracted chefs, owners and staff from some of the leading restaurants and hotels in Newcastle and wider North East region – including Babucho, Blackfriars, Bouchon Bistro, Cook House, Earl of Pitt Street, Flint, Jesmond Dene House, Longsands, Ramside Hall Hotel, Restaurant Hjem, Riley’s Fish Shack, Stark’s Kitchen, along with Kenny Atkinson’s House of Tides and many more.

Terry Laybourne said: “There was overwhelming support and goodwill shown for this event. Nobody needed asking twice. As well as the attendance and great atmosphere on the night we had generous support in kind and gifts from many other operators in the sector for our raffle, bingo, silent auction and old-style meat draw with salt-aged Glenarm Shorthorn beef supplied by Peter Hannan.

“I must thank everyone for attending and supporting, and our great team of staff for making the evening such an enjoyable one while still being mindful of the purpose behind the celebration.”

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