Celebrity chef Michael Caines MBE, who visited Calvert Trust Exmoor earlier this month, has agreed to become an Ambassador for the charity, calling the centre “one of North Devon’s ‘hidden gems”.
“Calvert Trust Exmoor is a fantastic facility,” Michael explained following a motivational speech he gave to an invited audience of visitors and local dignitaries at the centre on Tuesday. “It provides amazing opportunities for people who are challenged in life through a variety of disabilities, and it also supports the families who care for them.”
Born and raised in Exeter, Michael lost his right arm in a road accident in 1994, but has risen to the top of his profession, being named AA’s Chef of the Year in 2007 and holding two Michelin stars for 18 consecutive years. Michael describes the accident as a defining part of his life, alongside the day he was adopted in terms of importance.
“My upbringing defined my outlook in the sense of who I am; but the love and support of friends and family that got me through that difficult day,” Michael said. “That day changed me, for sure. It made me a better person because I became more compassionate. If it hadn’t been for the compassion of others, then I’d have never got through that day.”
Calvert Trust Exmoor CEO, Heidi Watson, said the charity was delighted that Michael has agreed to become an Ambassador. “He’s a shining example of someone who has not only overcome disability but has proved to the world what a disabled person can achieve in their lives.”
Michael, who recently added The Coach House at Kentisbury Grange to his portfolio and the newly opened Lympstone Manor near Exeter, explained that the local community can play its part in helping the guests that stay at Calvert Trust Exmoor: “The community has a big role to play, making sure that the individuals who come here, for whatever reason, whatever background or circumstances, whatever their individual story is, get the opportunity to live a thorough and fulfilling life – one that challenges them and gives them the qualities of life that we all want: ‘happiness.’ That’s the one key quality that I think is vital.
“We’re all challenged; we all have demons,” he continued. “Some of us might suffer from depression, some of you might have got up this morning feeling like it’s a tough day; but their days are always tough and always challenging. This wonderful facility at Calvert Trust Exmoor gives people what I call ‘positive challenges’ that add value to their lives, and in doing so breaks down that word ‘disability’ into opportunity and ability.”
One of the UK’s most celebrated chefs, Michael concluded by saying that every day he gets now is “a gift”.
“I could have died at 25, but I didn’t. Life is short enough anyway, and given those challenges that we have, they make us a stronger and a better person. If you’ve been given opportunity to continue your life and drive forward with the help and support of others, then your potential can be realised too.
“It’s really inspiring to see so much passion in the people that run Calvert Trust Exmoor and the community that supports it. And I’m very proud to be associated with the centre.”
To find out more about how you can get involved in the work of Calvert Trust Exmoor, visit the website www.calvert-trust.org.uk/support or call 01598 763221.