Despite cultural organisations around the world closing their doors as a precaution to reduce the spread of coronavirus, the catering team at Waddesdon is doing its best to ensure local pupils don’t go hungry, and Easter eggs don’t go to waste.

Around 1.3 million children in England currently benefit from a free school lunch, and school closures are therefore expected to have a particularly severe impact on young people usually in receipt of free school meals.

Local organisation Aspire, which provides alternative education provision and support for secondary age pupils in Buckinghamshire, are acutely aware of this. Chefs from Waddesdon Manor and the Five Arrows have therefore turned their hand to supplying breakfast and a hot lunch for their students on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Waddesdon’s head chef, Ben Thurkettle, said, ‘We’re very pleased the produce we have in stock for upcoming weddings and Waddesdon’s catering outlets is not going to waste, but is making sure vulnerable local children still get a hot meal’.

Once existing supplies run out the Rothschild Foundation, a grant-making charity based at Waddesdon, will provide funding to continue the scheme.

To minimise risk and to comply with social distancing, there are fewer chefs in the Waddesdon kitchens. Once the food is prepared, it is transferred to Aspire’s staff waiting outside, who transport the meals to individual students while practising social distancing.

Additionally, 900 chocolate eggs that were supplied to Waddesdon as prizes for Easter trails have been delivered to Aylesbury Food Bank. Ten boxes were also given to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, and the same number were taken to Stoke Mandeville hospital’s children’s ward.