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Top TV chef Lesley Waters to host healthy cooking session at the opening of Portfield School’s new sixth form in Christchurch

A TOP TV chef will be hosting a healthy cooking session at the opening of a specialist autism school’s sixth form in Christchurch.

Lesley Waters, a regular on ITV’s This Morning, will be popping along to Portfield School’s special day later this month, whipping up delights in its new kitchen.

Run by Autism Unlimited, the charity took over a former warehouse at Hurn’s Airfield Road and undertook an ambitious redevelopment programme with the support of BCP Council.

TV chef Lesley Waters will be hosting a healthy cooking event at the school opening
TV chef Lesley Waters will be hosting a healthy cooking event at the school opening

The sixth form boasts modern tutor rooms, workshop areas, a professional training kitchen, social areas, gym and outdoor space.

It also has a recording studio where singer, musician and songwriter Matt Hovenden is helping students explore their musical talents.

Matt said: “Some students are just starting out with instruments, whilst others are already talented musicians – like Archie, who is a keen singer and drummer, and Leon, a self-taught guitarist who writes and records his own songs.

“One student, Kai, listens to music in an academic, almost mathematical, way allowing him to identify pitch and emotions in a way you would only usually expect from professional musicians.”

“Some students have low self-esteem, so to hear something they have recorded is a big thing.”

Leon and Kai at the school's recording studio
Leon and Kai at the school's recording studio

All are invited to the official opening on 22nd March, which runs from 10am to 4pm.

As well as the chance to tour the new building and meet teachers and students, visitors can watch Lesley cooking healthy food with students in the professional training kitchen.

Lesley previously supported Autism Unlimited’s Big Brekkie campaign and has hosted parents and carers of students at her Dorset cookery school.

Additional entertainment at the launch will be provided by The Dhol Foundation Drummers and a Ceilidh Band.

A number of grants and individual donors, including a £10,000 donation from the Talbot Village Trust, has helped to create the sixth form.

Siún Cranny, CEO of Autism Unlimited, said: “Portfield School Sixth Form looks to nurture talent and foster success and fulfilment in adulthood.

“Our new building is an environment in which young people thrive.

“Every day we are awestruck by the accomplishments of our students – including their musical talents, showcased in many stunning performances and shows throughout the year.

“We hope people will come to our new building’s official opening and see first-hand what young autistic people can achieve.”

Those attending should register: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-grand-opening-of-portfield-sixth-form-tickets-770167169737

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