Grape Britain: Exports of English wine have doubled – but will it last post-Brexit?

Producers are rightly proud of sparkling wines that have won places on the wine lists of Michelin-starred restaurants in France, while the launch of high-end cuvées from the likes of Coates & Seely are positioned to penetrate a luxury market that has long been owned by Champagne.

The Telegraph: Victoria Moore

According to Wine GB, the future of the English wine industry has never looked rosé-er. But how are things looking on the ground?

Coates and Seely English Wine vineyard

Wine GB had some good news for us this morning. Exports of English wine have more than doubled in a year, rising from 256,000 bottles in 2018 to 550,000 bottles in 2019, which accounts for 10 per cent of all bottles sold, according to new figures released through the Department of Trade and Industry.

The data also shows that English wine is extending its global influence. It is now poured in 40 countries around the world, including the US, which is the primary export market, Norway, and Japan, which accounted for 6 per cent of exports in 2019.

“This is an exciting time for the English wine industry, as exports and e-commerce grow strongly and higher production helps the sector recover from coronavirus,” said Minister for Exports Graham Stuart. But how are things really looking down on the ground? The English and Welsh wine industry has certainly come an excitingly long way in a short time.

Seven years ago I accompanied a band of English wine producers to Dusseldorf where they were exhibiting at Prowein, the world’s largest wine trade fair. It was an early international brand-building exercise, a chance to show sommeliers and the rest of the world’s wine trade that English wine was not just a curiosity but something they might want to buy.

Most of the comments from those who tried it were positive, but many passers-by also registered wry surprise: “Do you grow the vines in greenhouses?” asked one. It wasn’t clear whether he was joking.

English wine is now better known and has passed some important milestones.

Producers are rightly proud of sparkling wines that have won places on the wine lists of Michelin-starred restaurants in France, while the launch of high-end cuvées from the likes of Coates & Seely are positioned to penetrate a luxury market that has long been owned by Champagne, elevating the reputation of the whole industry in the process.

English wine cuvees

But if the story of English wine is one of rapid expansion and a promising track record of individual successes it is still very early days.

Producers agree that English wine has much to do in terms of consolidating and growing its reputation. “Exports currently represent 15-20 per cent of our current releases and we hope to grow that,” says Mark Driver, co-founder and joint owner of Rathfinny Estate in Sussex.

“So a lot of work is required over the next few years. Although ‘Exporting is Great’, as the government likes to tell us, we will need financial support from the government to build brand awareness overseas.

“At the moment we’re all working collaboratively to promote the sector but it needs serious investment, probably more than we can collectively afford, to build the ‘English Wine’ brand. The UK government needs to invest some of the excise duty they get when we sell our wine in the UK, to help us build the brand overseas.”

Mark Harvey, the CEO of Kent producer Chapel Down, echoes this note of caution and the need for investment: “The early momentum is there [for exports of English sparkling wine] but it’ll take investment and collaboration across the industry to unlock.” He identifies the US as, “the standout opportunity of scale – a large champagne market where Brand Britain is well received – and the early results are positive.”

Production of English and Welsh wine has risen sharply in the last couple of years, partly as a result of new vineyard plantings reaching maturity and partly as consequence of vintage variation. In 2018, a record-breaking year, enough grapes were picked to make 13.11m bottles of wine, up from 5.9m in 2017, 4.15m in 2016 and 5.06m in 2015. The most recent 2019 harvest was also ample, with a production equivalent to 10.5m bottles.

Higher production figures are both an opportunity and a concern. In previous years, attempts to build export markets have been hampered by a lack of wine to sell. But there are also fears that such a sharp increase could lead to an over-supply when the sparkling wine comes to market, which is typically around three years after harvest.

Needless to say, in 2020 there are additional challenges. The choppy waters caused by Covid-19 and the uncertainty and potential costs of Brexit are not easy to navigate. Many English wine producers have built high-end reputations around dining out and the “season” – events such as horse-racing and tennis – and this sector has been badly hit by the year’s closures. “This situation has turned everything I knew about building a brand on its head,” says one producer who is now re-evaluating the next move.

If this year has taught us anything, it’s that you can’t see what’s coming round the next corner. But wine producers in Britain will be hoping for post-Brexit deals that don’t just put a fair wind behind exports but which also enable them to import the equipment and labour they need to keep production running smoothly and costs at an affordable level.”

Coates and Seely's Sparkling Wines

A Vineyard Diary Part 11

Virginia Coates, Head of Events demonstrates local and seasonal food pairing with English sparkling wine from Coates & Seely.

Vineyards and Coronavirus

The story so far: life begins to return to something closer to normality, with the hospitality sector having taken the first early steps towards re-opening, (although crowd-related ‘events’ remain prohibited).  Meanwhile, we have completed the first curated tours of Coates & Seely on ‘Albion’, our 1952 vintage coach…

In addition to a curated guide of the vineyards and winery, with transport provided by ‘Albion’, our tour-guests are also treated to food matching – with canapés made from our own ingredients or those of our neighbours – followed by lunch outside under Indian Mughal tents. 

Virginia’s culinary skills at this point play a leading role, proving that the chalk soils of North Hampshire not only provide outstanding fruit for the production of English sparkling wine, but also the perfect ingredients for food pairings with our wines.

Food pairing with English Sparkling Wine

England has no food and wine ’vernacular’, in the way that French or Italian wine regions, for instance, have developed – sometimes over centuries – local food dishes that perfectly match the local wines, but we have made an exciting start at Coates & Seely, knowing that no wine is ever entirely complete without matching food and the deep pleasure of accompanying friendship.

Here is Virginia at work.

A Vineyard Diary Part 10

Coates & Seely launch the private tours of their Hampshire vineyard and winery including sparkling wine tasting and food pairing lunch.

Vineyards and Coronavirus

The story so far: after battles with disappearing workforces, collapsing markets, devilish frosts and government fug, are we seeing the early glimpses of a return to a previous life?

Hampshire Vineyard Private Tour lunch under Indian Mughal Tent

In anticipation of the re-opening of the hospitality sector next week, and in an attempt to make up in some part for the lost, but essential, life pleasures of eating and drinking in beautiful surroundings, we have decided to open our Hampshire gardens and English Sparkling Wine vineyards and offer socially-distanced Private Tours of our vineyards and winery, followed by tastings, food pairings and lunch under Indian Mughul tents.

Given the constraints we are under the tours, filmed below, can only be taken by groups of 8-12 people and are aimed principally at the corporate hospitality sector or perhaps for those special occasions. 

(to be continued….)

A Vineyard Diary Part 9

Coates & Seely applaud and salute the hospitality industry inspired by generosity and care for their staff and the vulnerable throughout the pandemic.

Vineyards and Coronavirus

The story so far: beyond the struggle to survive pandemics and mother nature, and through the chaos and absurdities of current lockdown policy, the shoots of practical self-help continue to take root.

Commedia dell’Arte – also known as Commedia alla Maschera (masked comedy), or Commedia Improvviso – is said to have died out in the late 18th century.

Nevertheless, it appears to be making a concerted comeback, in only the thinnest of disguises, with our current leadership.

What could be more ‘improvised’ (and comic, if it weren’t so tragic) than the current farrago around quarantine?

Or a more perfect comic plot than the tortured issue of wearing (or not wearing) (or being seen to wear) a face ‘mask’?

It is as if Il Capitano, Scaramouche and Il Dottore have metamorphosed into some of our most (or least!) eminent politicians.  (We will leave it to you to apply names to characters. By email, please – the best suggestions to qualify for a bottle of Coates & Seely).

Away from this hopeless mess, it is heartening to see so many of our clients within the hospitality sector – one of the worst to be hit by the pandemic –  emerge with initiatives of their own, fired both by generosity and resourcefulness.

Into the first category fall the Caprice Group of restaurants, who in conjunction with the Richard Caring Foundation have opened the kitchens of The Ivy Collection, Scott’s, Annabel’s, Le Caprice and Bill’s across the country to provide 50,000 meals a week to the vulnerable throughout the pandemic.  And our dear friends at Food Show, one of the most renowned events caterers in London, who have done something very similar.

These are wonderful, real-life performances, inspired by generosity and care for their staff, which we applaud and salute.

Initiative and resourcefulness also abound. Skye Gyngell of Spring and Heckfield Place has helped protect their inspired kitchen garden at Heckfield, their bio-dynamic farm supplier, Fern Verrow in Herefordshire, as well their own chefs, by supplying their renowned sourdough breads and kefir butter, cakes, jams and cordials and specialist store cupboard ingredients for their stranded London customers via an on-line shop.

Sparkling Rose at Spring Restaurant

Simon and Jason, at The Wellington Arms in Baughurst, have done something similar, turning their restaurant into the Welli Deli where each morning you can find their signature cheese soufflés, crab & asparagus quiches and home-grown miniature vegetables, along with bottles of Coates & Seely, alongside a good-natured gathering of satisfied local customers.

In London, the Cubitt House group have turned The Coach Makers Arms, The Orange and The Alfred Tennyson into purveyors of the finest takeaways; whilst the deeply talented Jonny Lake and Isa Bal – previously head chef and head sommelier, respectively, at The Fat Duck – have launched an online shop to supplement Trivet, their quite outstanding new restaurant in Bermondsey, which we urge you all to visit the minute lockdown is over (it is the most exciting new restaurant in London).

All of these inspirational establishments, as well as hundreds of our other friends within the industry, will in time thrive once more in providing outstanding service, at the very highest levels, to their devoted customers.

But we do urgently need the current cast of comic characters to speak their final lines, promptly, clearly and judiciously, without contradiction or inconsistency, and to remove themselves from the hospitality stage as soon as possible, as has now been done in almost every other European country.

Not just to save jobs, companies and whole industries, but to save livelihoods.

To ensure success, they might also quarantine the Home Secretary…

Finally, to soften this rather irritable tone, we invite all our friends of Coates & Seely to put themselves forward to win a fabulous prize of bottles of Coates & Seely, boxes of Summerdown Mint Chocolates and photo frames from our friends at Addison Ross. 

(to be continued….)

A Vineyard Diary Part 8

Christian Seely of Coates & Seely talks about Vintage English Sparkling ‘La Perfide’ 2011.

Vineyards and Coronavirus

The story so far: from the Coates’ temporary office arrangements inside Albion, parked outside their Hampshire home, we move to the Seely home office in Bordeaux…

Sparkling wine cocktail

In addition to creating, under lockdown conditions, quarantinis of cosmopolitan brilliance (this week’s is a blend of Château Suduiraut and Coates & Seely in a one third, two thirds combination to produce the ‘Entente Cordiale’), Christian has embarked of late on a highly successful movie career.

Here we see him in his latest epic, ‘La Perfide (2011)’, (remember ‘El Cid’?), which tells the story of a small and select batch of the 2011 harvest’s finest grapes, converted to 300 individually numbered magnums of vintage Coates & Seely Brut Reserve, the last 100 of which are now being offered exclusively to Friends of Coates & Seely.

This vintage wine, which is a gold medal winner and won, on its release, the Trophy for the Most Outstanding English Vintage Sparkling Wine (UK Wine Awards), has been on strict allocation since its launch in 2018 and has been selling for prices in excess of £110 per magnum. 

With the restaurant trade currently closed, we are now delighted to be in a position to offer these magnums exclusively to Friends of Coates & Seely at the reduced price of £90 per magnum.

It is drinking perfectly and is at its very best now.

Magnum of Vintage Sparkling Wine

Finally, a second movie, ‘The Entente Cordiale’, shows our up and coming matinee idol in a role in which he’s arguably at his very best.

The action depicted in this film specifically should be followed at home.

(to be continued….)

A Vineyard Diary Part 7

Vineyards and Coronavirus

Scroll back to February 2019 (in happier times…)

It’s three in the morning and pouring with rain. 

For once, it is not frost that has hauled us reluctantly from our beds, but a quest. Paulo, our vineyard manager, stifles a yawn and gets into the waiting car.

We are about to set off for the Channel Tunnel, and thence to Belguim, to make a 10am rendez-vous.

The week before we have won the exclusive contract to supply the Jockey Club and we now need a branded vehicle to represent us at such iconic forthcoming events as the Aintree Grand National and the Epsom Derby.

This is our quest.

Seven hours later, we pull up at a warehouse on an industrial estate, 150km to the east of Brussels. Rusted iron doors screech painfully as the storage facility is opened up for us.

We peer in and there she is, sandwiched uncomfortably between a vintage fire engine and a clapped-out hearse: a 1954 British Leyland coach, already painted (as if by miracle) in the Coates & Seely livery of British racing green.  

Having once plied the London to Maidstone coach-route, and subsequently been used for continental weddings, she is now woefully neglected.

There is a frisson as we see her in the flesh for the first time.

Forget the red Lamborghini, the chrome cylinders of a Harley Davidson or the smooth curves of a Ukrainian supermodel.

This is the real thing:  a veritable ‘crise de coeur’ of the full-blooded, mid-life variety.

She stands like a faded diva, bereft of her youthful looks, but with the unmistakable lines and posture of a super-star.

Six weeks later and our Polish master craftsmen, Andrez and Pavel, have stripped her bare, re-positioned her ageing seats, built drinks tables and re-applied her maquillage in a fresh racing green.

The final coup-de-grace is her new name-plate – ‘Albion’ – which nestles like a tiara above her noble brow.

And we are only just in time.

The following day she is driven to Newmarket at full speed (a stately 37mph), again at three in the morning.  It takes us five and a half hours.  It’s her first time out, and she’s due to appear before the start of the 1,000 Guineas.

That afternoon, the equally lovely ITV racing correspondent, Francesca Cumani, spots her and comes to sit with her on camera.

We bristle with pride.

The Derby and The Oaks then follow, as do more of the TV cameras, drawn to her blend of vintage good looks and old-world charm.  A cross between Grace Kelly and Marlene Dietrich.

Today she is parked outside our home, providing the perfect office for a pandemic. Four tables, designed for glasses of Coates & Seely in happier times, make perfectly distanced desks, away from the din of telephones and the family scramble for working space in the kitchen.

One day, when all this is over, she will grace the great race-courses of England once more, but in the meantime we are happy to be in the hands of such a trusty and versatile family friend.

Long live Albion!

(to be continued….)

The best English Sparkling Wines to buy directly from vineyards

The Telegraph: Victoria Moore

At a time when a glass of wine is one of the few pleasures we can all still rely on, getting hold of the stuff has become almost as hard as buying a bottle of Dettol anti-bacterial spray. Do not lose hope…

Many of the smaller independent wine merchants up and down the country have begun making local deliveries (and some of them are free) – give your nearest a call and see what they can do.

And don’t forget that England now has its own thriving wine industry. In many cases you can buy English wine online direct from the vineyard and have it delivered to your doorstep. Here’s my pick of the sparkling English wines.

I highly recommend Coates & Seely, a Hampshire producer. Coates & Seely Brut Reserve NV – a sparkling wine made from all three champagne grapes, chardonnay (40%), pinot noir (50%) and pinot meunier (10%) is on absolutely top form at the moment and an absolute steal at the price (£31.95 per bottle, £364.23 per case of 12 and £8 delivery per consignment).

Stock up before everyone else realizes what a good buy it is (and how much they will need to get through the summer).

Best English Sparkling Wine to buy direct

Best English Sparkling Wine to buy direct

At the beginning of Lockdown The Telegraph’s Wine Correspondent Victoria Moore recommended Coates & Seely in the Luxury Living section in a feature about the best English sparkling wines to buy directly from vineyards.

At Coates & Seely we produce some of the best English sparkling wines.  The wines are not only of the highest quality but they are authentic to our own English ‘terroir’ – and could not be made by any other.  Although our Hampshire vineyard is planted, as in Champagne vineyards, with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grape varieties our wines reflect our land, our values and our families.

Award-Winning Wines

For this reason, we restrict our productive capacity and focus instead on perfecting our craft in an unending pursuit of excellence, guided only by quality.  The first sparkling wine we produced, our Blanc de Blancs 2009 Vintage ‘La Perfide’ made from Chardonnay grapes has won Trophies and Gold Medals in almost every major international wine competition.So, whilst our sparkling wines, such as our gold medal winning Brut Reserve NV, are listed in some of the most iconic destinations in the world (including the Four Seasons, ‘Alain Ducasse’ at the Dorchester, The Ivy, The Fat Duck, The Savoy, Annabel’s, The George V and Le Bristol in Paris, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court Palace, Spencer House, Tate Modern & Britain, The Royal Academy) you won’t find them in the supermarket aisles.

We are proud to sell our best sparkling wine directly from the cellar door to our private clients.

Whilst we are currently not open to the public and unable to welcome visitors in person to our Hampshire vineyard and winery we are very much still open. Ensuring that our valued friends and customers can order some of the best English sparkling wine the country has to offer through our online shop or by phone.

English sparkling wines 2020

Following vintage harvest years and many international wine awards won recently by the best English sparkling wines, 2020 is set to be an interesting year for the industry.

Many wine connoisseurs have taken advantage of their ‘down-time’ during lockdown to try out the best English Sparkling Wines now widely available directly from the vineyards.

It is also reassuring to see an increasing number of independent wine retailers that now stock some of the best English sparkling wine from English vineyards in Hampshire, Kent and West Sussex.

Support local vineyards

The events of this year have also resulted in a new focus on products of a more local origin and the desire to support more local vineyards.  Where wine drinkers may select the best English fizz rather than sparkling produce from other nations. 

The younger wine-drinking audience, perhaps more restrained in their consumption than previous generations, are choosing quality over quantity and often choosing the best English sparkling over a cheaper alternative from overseas.

Buying direct from the vineyard is a great way to support your local English wine producer. 

Our loyal customers and those signed up to our Private List can also receive information on our latest cuvees, news from our Hampshire vineyard and discounts on some of the best English sparkling wine available today.

Whether you are looking for the ‘gossamer light construction, pale colour and scents of rose-hips and strawberry of our Rosé NV.  Or the ‘Elegant hawthorn and acacia, impressive mousse and green apple freshness’ of our Brut Reserve.  

The Coates & Seely team are always working hard to ensure our range of award winning Sparkling Wines are available to order direct from our vineyard in Hampshire for delivery to your door.

best english sparkling wine

A Vineyard Diary Part 6

Vineyards and Coronavirus

It’s Tuesday, 3am.

The thermometer in the Landrover is showing just 1°C and the sky is bristling with stars.

It is utterly silent.

We head onto the old Whitchurch Road, driving along the valley floor and turn right at the Watership Down pub, heading north along a narrow lane.

When we reach the top of the hill the sky broadens out and to our right the eastern horizon is already beginning to glow.

A pale half-moon hangs, brilliantly frozen, to our left.

As we approach the vineyard the thermometer drops to zero.

We can see Paulo, our vineyard manager, and his wife, Luisa, in the arc-light of the giant fan he has positioned at the bottom of the vine-rows, facing up the slope.

They have the same look of nervous excitement on their faces that we feel in our bellies.

Along the northern and eastern perimeters of the vineyard dozens of wood fires, built the previous day, stand ready to be lit.  Clumps of green hay lie alongside them, to generate smoke.

A brief parley.

It is still only 3.30am and the temperature is falling rapidly. We are in trouble. At this time of year the young vines will survive at -1°C to -2°C unaided.

Between -2°C and -4°C they need external help – from heat, air movement, smoke or water – if they are to avoid destruction.

Below -4°C and all bets are off.

The vines, at this stage, are like young children. They need protecting.

Paulo starts the giant turbine that drives the fan. The shape of the blades is designed to blow cold air away and suck in the warmer air that sits directly above it. Its arc covers one quarter of the most vulnerable area of the vineyard.

It is the latest technology, from New Zealand.

As he calibrates the angles of the fan-head, the rest of us move along the long line of fires with firelighters and tapers, lighting each with military precision.  Once the fires are raging, we will layer the green hay across them to muffle the flames and create a layer of smoke.

This is the old-fashioned way.

A little later, having finally positioned the giant fan, Paulo appears on a tractor pulling what is known as a ‘Frostbuster’.

Imagine a giant hair-dryer on wheels, but a hundred and fifty times bigger, fuelled by huge gas cannisters, that is towed behind the tractor and blows out an endless stream of hot air.

It is the equivalent of a thousand management consultants, all consulting at once: a lot of noise, a lot of heat, and not much effect.

It is yesterday’s technology.

But in times of crisis, action – almost any action  – is consolatory.

When we started out as vignerons it was hard to accept, at first, that we could not control our lives, that we were at the mercy of forces beyond us. So we learned, early on, the therapeutic value of activity, and a hard-won resignation.

By 5 am the temperature has fallen to -2°C and is still falling. By sunrise, in 30 minutes, it will have hit the danger zone.

All our defences are now up across various parts of the vineyard.  There is nothing more we can do. I walk to the top of the hill.

Across the valley, looking eastwards, the faint pink light that had earlier smudged the black silhouette of the treeline is now a blazing orange. When the sun finally rises it catches the delicate layers of smoke that lie across the valley floor, turning them to shades of angry red and black.

It is hard to imagine a scene at once more beautiful and lethal.

I walk back down through the vines to the others.

As I do my hand is drawn instinctively to some of the frosted vine leaves. I stroke them dry, as I once wiped my children’s fevered foreheads in their sleep. It is only then I realise how much all this means.

We won’t know how much damage there has been until later in the day.

Our work is finally done. We thank one another and part with a comforting sense of solidarity, before making our various ways home. It has been a long and exhausting morning and we have all worked well. We are fearful but, in the circumstances, could not have done more.

Only time will now tell…

(to be continued….)

A Vineyard Diary Part 5

Vineyards and Coronavirus

At Coates & Seely we while away the magical hour between 6pm and 7pm, when the deliveries are done and our worldly cares vanish in the innocent blush of a first drink, with the creation of a number of new cocktails designed specifically for Coronavirus lock-down (collectively, a “quarantini”).

Christian out-classes us all in this particular endeavour, devoting his considerable knowledge and energy in pursuit of perfection.

His current masterpiece is what we have decided to call a ‘Sbagliato Cinese’: 1/3 Campari, 1/10 Carpano Antica Bitters and the rest sparkling wine (best, of course, with Coates & Seely)

You should not wait for the lifting of lock-down to try this quarantini, nor be deceived by the name. It is utterly delicious, and by altering the fractions of the ingredients you can achieve either a sensible or a thrillingly rapid ascent to heaven (a useful contingency in current circumstances).

On the subject of quarantinis, you will have noticed the current pandemic is spawning a new vocabulary.

A “coronacoaster”, describing the emotional gyrations in a pandemic – loving lock-down one minute and weeping with anxiety the next – would, if we were classifying each new word, definitely be awarded a ‘first-growth’.

There are many others, which you will no doubt have seen. What you might not have seen, however, is that there is a saint who shares a name with this pandemic: a young female martyr, slain by the Romans in the second century AD for comforting a tortured enemy soldier, and canonized subsequently as St Corona.

Today, she is revered principally in the small town of St Corona am Weschel, in Austria – which is, perhaps not surprisingly, still under lock-down. 

Do visit, though, when lock-down is finally lifted.

Its principal attraction is its state-of-the-art theme park.

“The Corona Park”, we are told, is set amongst verdant hills and its centrepiece – the “Corona Coaster” – can be experienced (by contrast to the Sbagliato Cinese) with either a comfortable or a thrillingly rapid descent (in this case, to hell…)

Still to be pondered at this stage, though, is an apposite word for the socially-distanced drinks party that will soon be following once lock-down is lifted.

We have already received early orders of Coates & Seely in anticipation of this new phenomenon.

Its merits are clear, presenting as it does, with its guaranteed distancing of up to 2 metres from any bore in the room, the perfect alibi for not listening, with near complete protection from even the most determined of spittle, and capped by significantly enhanced escape (and exfiltration) potential.

But we do need a name for it.

Answers please, and a bottle of Coates & Seely (or, for the hard-core among you, a Sbagliato Cinese), to the winner.

(to be continued….)

A Vineyard Diary Part 4

Vineyards and Coronavirus

Rosie describes herself on her twitter page as a “Proud Northern Girl”, but this tells only half the story.

She is also a senior nurse on a COVID 19 ITU ward at University College Hospital London.

Rosie approaches us out of the blue (as angels do) for some sponsorship of the UCHL nurses, having tasted Coates & Seely wines with her family in happier times.

We respond positively and deliver our contribution to her flat in Bethnal Green.

It’s five weeks into lockdown when we do, and she has just finished a 13 hour shift at the end of a 70 hour working week, but she’s still smiling.  She’s been unable to see any of her family, whom she’s missing badly, for many weeks now, yet she radiates good humour.

We offer to help her carry the heavy boxes of Coates & Seely we have brought with us up the long flight of stairs to her flat, but despite her exhaustion she insists on doing it herself, conscious of the hazard to us.

Always thinking of others.

With her best friend, Jenny, another senior nurse on the ward, they started a campaign called Kindness a few weeks ago.

It’s a campaign that does what it says.

Initially contrived to source cosmetics for nurses whose faces are raw after 13 hours under face-masks, the campaign has since broadened rapidly.

‘Cowshed’ provided the first face-creams and hand lotions but numerous firms, in response to the nurses’ gentle campaign, have since chipped in.

‘Itsu’ now provide daily sustenance, ‘Ferrero Rocher’ chocolates, ‘Camden Brewery’ beer and ‘Roberts Radios’ a soothing voice from the outside world, to name just a few.

As the goods flood in, Rosie and Jenny spend what little time they have off dispensing them across the huge ITU nursing staff at UCHL.  

This is a time-consuming logistical task in itself, but it raises morale and brings some much-needed light into the frequent darkness of their working lives.

Rosie says it’s worth all the extra work just to see the smiles on the nurses’ faces. Many of them, particularly the younger ones, are fearful and lonely.

If anyone wishes to contribute items to their Kindness campaign, Rosie can be contacted on or tweeted on @rosebud2605.

They will be as grateful as they are giving.

Nearer to home, we deliver the rest of our charitable budget to the equally wonderful ITU nurses at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, each of them exposed to the same hardships of combatting COVID 19, which they do on all of our behalves.

May God bless them all.

(to be continued….)