Young chef to cook for cricket legend

Wendy Binns with her husband David, right, and the cricket legend Dickie Bird. (S)
Wendy Binns with her husband David, right, and the cricket legend Dickie Bird. (S)

A chance meeting with a representative of a charitable organisation has led to a once in a lifetime opportunity for a budding Yorkshire chef.

When Tadcaster Grammar School student Oliver Earl was waiting to sit a Spanish exam, he was introduced to Eric Stephens, who just happened to be in school to promote the work of the Dickie Bird Foundation.

It was mentioned to Eric that one day Oliver was hoping to be a top chef and, without more of a do, Eric invited Oliver to cook a meal to help raise funds for the Foundation.

Oliver, aged 16, who already works weekends at Pike Hills Golf Club under their chef Alan Scott, jumped at the chance to show off his culinary skills. A meeting was held initially with Oliver, Alan, Eric and the Pike Hills management team and the idea will now come to fruition later this year.

“Oliver is the most promising and talented cook I have ever come across in all my years of being a chef,” said Alan, who is a Michelin-starred chef in his own right. “He always rises to the challenge and I enjoy stretching his imagination by pushing him that extra mile.”

The charity dinner for the Dickie Bird Foundation will take place at Pike Hills Club on Friday, September 23 and Oliver will be taking the helm with help from Alan, cooking for 90 guests.

Organising the function will be Wendy Binns, publicity officer for Tadcaster Grammar School who initially introduced Eric to Oliver and who volunteered to co-ordinate everything to make it happen.

She said: “This is the first time I have organised such an event on this level, but I am relishing the challenge and the opportunity is too good to miss, not only to promote one of our talented young students, but also to raise money for the Dickie Bird Foundation, which provides disadvantaged young people with the opportunity to play all sport, not just cricket.

“The tickets are practically sold out and I have had tremendous support from Eric, Dickie Bird himself and the Foundation and also from local businesses who have already pledged generous auction and raffle prizes, including Hazlewood Castle Hotel; Tesco at Askham Bar, York; Kennedy’s Wine Bar and Restaurant in York, Rudding Park, Pike Hills Golf Club, York Opera House and the Yorkshire novelist Joanna Joslin, who will personally sign a copy of her book on the evening.

“In fact, the Foundation invited me and my husband David to a luncheon held recently in the Executive Suite, Headlingley Carnegie Stadium and the guest speaker was the Rt Hon Sir John Major KG CH, with BBC’s Tanya Arnold as the host.

“What an honour this was and I was delighted to finally meet Dickie Bird and of course to be introduced to Sir John Major.”

“The charity dinner at Pike Hills Golf Club will be a four-course Yorkshire-themed meal. A guest speaker has yet to be confirmed, but Dickie Bird will be present and the MC for the evening will be David Callaghan from Radio Leeds.”

Anyone interested in pledging an auction or raffle prize should contact Wendy at Tadcaster Grammar School on 01937 833466.