Signature food festival donates more than £250k to charity

Signature, Scotland’s only fine dining festival, has raised more than a quarter of a million pounds to charity; more than doubling the amount raised at the 2017 previous event. A total of £239,000 will be donated to the Friends of the Neo Natal Unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and £12,000 was also raised for Friendly Access a charity which supports those living with hidden disabilities. The sale of a guitar signed by more than 30 Scottish celebrities including Sir Andy Murray, Ewan McGregor, Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Alex Ferguson was split equally between the two charities.

Seven of the UK’s best-known chefs including Glynn Purnell, known as the Yummy Brummie, Atul Kochhar the first Indian chef to be awarded a Michelin star and Martin Wishart, brought their menus to The Chester Hotel in Aberdeen for Signature.

The inspiration behind Signature, The Chester Hotel co-owner Graham Wood, says of the total raised, “In 2017, the first year of the Signature food festival, we raised £105,000 for the Friends of the Neo Natal Unit. To more than double this total in the event’s second year, and to be in a position to donate more than a quarter of a million pounds between both charities, is a terrific achievement. The people of Aberdeen and those who travelled to Signature have such big hearts. It’s all thanks to the generosity of everyone who bought tickets for the dinners, donated during the afternoon tea event and bid for auction prizes. We’re incredibly grateful to our sponsors, as without their generous support we would not have been able to give such a large donation to the Friends of the Neo Natal Unit.

“I’m also indebted to our stellar line up of chefs, who cooked up such a storm in the kitchen for a great cause as well as all those who attended our Gleneagles events at The Chester Hotel earlier this year and who also contributed generously towards the £251k total.”

Katie Watters, head of fundraising at Friends of the Neo Natal unit says, “We are incredibly grateful for the huge amount of support we have received two years running from The Chester Hotel. The amount raised is unbelievable and will be used to greatly improve the new Baird hospital facilities. We can’t thank the staff and everyone who was involved enough for their hard work and generosity”

Atul Kochhar, a television regular on shows such as Saturday Kitchen and the Great British Menu, says, “My heart goes out for such events. We have to help such causes which are close to my heart. My daughter was born critically ill and she wouldn’t have survived without Great Ormond Street Hospital. Anything and everything that comes my way where I’ll be able to help children, I just do without even thinking. So, when I was asked can I help Friends of the Neo Natal Unit; I said yes I will.”

The Yummy Brummie Glynn Purnell, another Saturday Kitchen regular and winner twice on the Great British menu was also delighted to support the event, “An event like Signature where all the money goes to the Neo Natal Unit is fantastic. For the owners of the hotel, [Graham and Gillian Wood] to put on such a great event, not just for fun and great food, but also to raise serious amounts of money for a serious cause, is terrific.”

Signature kicked off with a glamorous afternoon tea with patisserie and chocolate work by master chocolatier William Curley and entertainment by west end star Beverley Knight.

Graham Wood concludes, “There will definitely be a Signature event next year; we aim to make it bigger and better. We’ve had such a great array of chefs from across Scotland and the UK. The variety and quality of chefs has been fantastic – the opportunities are endless. I’d love to see Signature grow and for people from all over Scotland to travel to the festival – that would be incredible.”

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