The Story of Rhyl Kitchen Classroom
A message from Tom Moggach, founder of Rhyl Kitchen Classroom:
The kitchen launched in October 2020. It was quite a journey! The fundraising took more than five years. I had no idea of the complexities involved - in terms of financing, design, project management and many other elements. Hundreds of people kindly volunteered their time over this period.
Along the way, the team here at Rhyl Community Primary School joined in on this fight and I wish to thank everyone again for helping us to realise our dreams. Here is the timeline:
The school had already built an Outdoor Classroom, where children learned about growing food and grazed around the plot - experiencing new flavours and textures. But our old school building, built in the 1890’s, severely restricted the scope of our ambitions - we did not have a room designed for teaching cookery, nor did we have any spare space of sufficient size in which to build one.
As a result, staff were forced to teach cookery in the classrooms, carrying equipment from room to room. This severely limited the range of our teaching and our pupils had no access to ovens and hobs. We were also unable to offer high quality food education workshops to the parents and wider community.
We were also motivated by some of the health inequalities in the area served by our school. Rhyl is in the Haverstock Ward of Camden, where diet-related disease is one of the biggest causes of illness and premature death. Recent statistics, for example, showed that 45.9% of Year Six pupils display excessive weight (29% are obese) compared with a national average of 33.5%. Child poverty is extremely high, with 51% of children living in income deprived households compared to 21.8% nationwide. Later in life, premature causes of death in this area from circulatory disease and coronary heart disease are notably high. Early intervention with families at primary age is crucial to reduce this.
The founder of Rhyl Kitchen Classroom and teacher at the school, Tom Moggach, had the idea of building a teaching kitchen in the middle of our garden and school car park. This seemed to be a good solution for making best use of the space for the benefit of the pupils at Rhyl.
We formally launched our project by hosting Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day at the school.
These were difficult years, as we began the fundraising process. This involved a huge jigsaw of grants, private donations and fundraising events. These included a sponsored cycle from Rhyl Primary School to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
In this year, we had terrible blow when our first attempt to build the kitchen failed. We went out to tender with an earlier design of the building which included a reinforced roof for a roof garden. However the additional engineering involved in this took the project over budget and we had to abandon our plans.
We re-designed the building and started the process again. Construction began in summer 2019.
Construction was delayed due to Covid-19. We finally received our Practical Completion certificate in late October.