Volunteers brewing their bit for Fairtrade fortnight

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Despite the snow threatening their efforts, those who support Fairtrade Fortnight wrapped up warm and carried on anyway.

Throughout last week, members of the Stamford Fairtrade Town Group served Fairtrade teas and coffees to surprised but grateful early-morning commuters at Stamford Railway Station. Despite snow and freezing cold temperatures, more than 250 hot drinks were given to grateful people, as well as flapjacks and other snacks.

Donations by commuters raised £131.33.

Change Agents UK also raised £61.10 for Fairtrade at their annual coffee shop, which again was held on Wednesday last week despite the weather.

And at the weekend, a Fairtrade Big Brew was held at the Oakham Methodist Church where the Rutland Fairtrade chocolate bar was officially launched.

The luxury milk chocolate bar has been produced by The Meaningful Chocolate Company for the Rutland Fairtrade Forum and is expected to be popular with visitors to the county as well as being an ideal gift for friends and family with links to Rutland.

The wrapper for the Rutland Fairtrade chocolate bar is the result of a competition run by Catmose College. The winning design was produced by Year 7 student Harrison Lang and features a striking image of Normanton Church.

Art teacher Lora Holmes said: “We were delighted to have the opportunity to be involved in this exciting project. We had an enthusiastic response from our pupils and we received a wide range of creative entries. Harrison’s design was a worthy winner and seeing the wrapper move from an initial concept through to a finished product has been very exciting. It is great to now see the chocolate bar on sale.”

David Marshall, from The Meaningful Chocolate Company, said: “We have been offering a custom made design service for organisations who want a Fairtrade certified chocolate bar since 2014. We offer this as part of our commitment to ethical trading.”

Because the bars are Fairtrade the growers who provide the bar’s ingredients are guaranteed to receive a fair price for their produce as well as the Fairtrade premium which must be invested in projects which benefit the community, for example providing fresh water supplies, improving access to education or installing solar panels. The Meaningful Chocolate Company sources sugar from cooperatives in Paraguay and Belize and cocoa from cooperatives in the Ivory Coast, Dominican Republic, Peru, Panama and Ecuador. The Fairtrade Foundation is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the Fairtrade certification. It makes sure that farmers do actually receive both a fair price and the Fairtrade premiums. They also monitor working conditions and environmental issues such as sustainability.

Craig Mitchell, the High Sheriff of Rutland, was among those present to witness the launch of the chocolate bar at the Methodist Church in Oakham on Saturday.

Mr Mitchell said: ”It is wonderful to see a new high quality souvenir product which promotes Rutland. The chocolate bar is beautifully presented in a stunning wrapper, tastes delicious and has the added bonus of being ethically produced.”

The Big Brew raised £115 from the sale of refreshments. This money will be donated to Traidcraft’s Hidden Entrepreneurs appeal, and will be doubled by the UK Government.

The Rutland Fairtrade chocolate bar will be available at Co-op stores in Oakham.

And the Fairtrade Fortnight celebrations will continue today with A Big Brew with a Difference. The Stamford group will be hosting the coffee morning from 10am to midday at Stamford Methodist Church in Barn Hill, to support the charity’s ‘Hidden Entrepreneur’ Appeal which focuses on people in developing countries who have the talent and determination to succeed but lack the opportunity.

In an extra special twist, this year every donation will be matched by the UK government meaning twice as much money goes to help people build businesses and create a better future for their families and communities.

Jan Hetherington, who is putting on the event, said: “We are really excited to have the opportunity to raise twice as much money this year. We’ve got an amazing event planned and we’re delighted to be able to support Traidcraft Exchange in this way.”

At the Big Brew event a variety of teas and coffees, hot chocolate plus homemade cakes will be on sale in The Well, the church’s Fairtrade shop and cafe.