Elise and Lara donated a cheque for the money raised during Dining in the Dark to The Shakespeare Puppies Appeal last week

A Stratford-upon-Avon College student acted as the driving force behind Dining in the Dark, a fund-raising dining experience held to raise money for local guide dog charity The Shakespeare Puppies Appeal.

Elise Salter, aged 17, wanted to put the skills she has developed during her Catering Studies course to good use while helping out a worthy cause. Working alongside her fellow Catering students, and ably assisted by her lecturers, she transformed the College’s own Academy Restaurant into a low-light level environment on the evening of Thursday 4 February.

Guests experienced exquisite fine dining throughout the six-course taster menu which placed a strong emphasis on textures, flavours and aromas. Music students from the College helped out with a live performance to greet the guests’ arrival and blindfolds were provided by the charity so diners could explore a complete sensory experience. Representatives of the charity attended the event – as well as working guide dogs and guide dog puppies in training!

The evening raised £629.33 for the charity and, last week, representatives returned to the College to collect the donation.

Elise, who lives in Warwick, is thrilled by the success of the event. “I was asked by my lecturer Hannah Waldram to think of a way to raise money for guide dogs for the blind. It has been so exciting to be part of creating Dining in the Dark. A lot of hard work went into planning and running the evening but raising so much money has definitely made it worthwhile.”

Level 1 Catering Studies student Lara Galliford, 16, from Stratford-upon-Avon, ably supported Elise throughout the planning process and was also on hand to help cater the event. “It was great to have the guide dogs join us for the evening. They were so well behaved; the charity does such a good job training them. Having the dogs in the restaurant also made it really unique for the diners.”

Hannah herself is delighted with how the evening turned out. “As part of the students’ enrichment programme this has been a valuable experience for all the students involved. There are plans to work with a representative from the charity even more in the future, to help the students understand better the difficulties faced by the visually impaired and explore further how they can help and support people in the community.”

Jackie Horton from the Shakespeare Puppies Appeal said, “The generosity and help we receive from the staff and students is amazing.  The College is raising money to name their own Guide Dog Shakespeare Puppy. This will contribute greatly to its training so it can go on to help someone lead an independent and fulfilling life.”

For more information on any of Stratford-upon-Avon College’s courses, please visit www.stratford.ac.uk or call the College on 01789 266245.

About Association of Colleges West Midlands

AoC West Midlands promotes and supports the interests of 38 general further education, sixth form and specialist colleges throughout the West Midlands region. The West Midlands is a diverse region and our colleges reflect this diversity. From small specialist colleges in rural locations to large inner city establishments, colleges reflect the needs of their local environment. Working closely with employers, learners and the local community, our 38 member colleges offer a broad range of flexible learning opportunities for individuals at all levels. They aim to give local people the skills they need for success and prosperity, tackling barriers to learning and providing opportunities that meet the needs of individuals and employers
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