On Friday April 9 2021, the La Soufrière volcano on Saint Vincent erupted spewing a suffocating cloud of ash and smoke six miles high.
Several further volcanic eruptions followed throwing the island into turmoil, contaminating the water supply and forcing people to flee their homes.
For those of you who know me you’ll likely know the island and its people mean everything to me.
My mum was from St Vincent and the Grenadines. It holds a unique place in my heart and its culture and heritage has helped shape the man I am today.
Growing up in a small seaside town, Whitstable, there wasn’t much of a black or Afro-Caribbean crowd. My mum thought it was integral for me to understand my roots, so from the age of seven we would go to visit every other year.
I’m privileged and blessed to think of St Vincent as my second home. It holds so many happy memories for me - of the island itself, and of my mum, who is sadly, no longer with us.
My mum was born and raised in a shanty town near Calliaqua and I still have a large extended family out there - four great-uncles and four great-aunties, numerous cousins - who have taken me under their wing in times of need.
Now, its people are suffering, they’ve lost everything, tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes and are being forced to live in overcrowded shelters, children have no clean drinking water, food and basic essentials are running low - it’s devastating.
For weeks now, the volcano has continued to erupt with unrelenting fury leaving the paradise I have known all my life unrecognisable.
I need the world to stand up and take notice, I need the people most affected to get the help they deserve - and I need you to help me do that.
I personally guarantee that the money will get to the people who need it the most in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines by working with local charities and organisations who are there, working on the ground, to help the victims of this horrifying humanitarian crisis.
Drinking water, food, clothes, basic essential items are a priority and the vast clean up effort will take a lot of time, money and resources.
We have set an initial target of £10,000 and I know, with your support and the hospitality community behind us we can reach that figure - and beyond.
I’m asking all UK restaurants to donate a £1 from every bottle of wine sold in the period up until my restaurant 12:51 reopens on May 18. Then we will take over and pledge to match the amount raised by doing the same - all of the money raised from restaurants and 12:51 will go straight to the St Vincent Volcano Relief by Chef James Cochran.
We're also launching the ATC SVG (St Vincent & the Grenadines) burger at my fried chicken restaurant Around the Cluck with 100% of sales going to to the fund.
I'm doing everything I can to help. I hope you find it in yourselves to help in whatever way you can.
I will be eternally grateful.
- Fiona Johnston
- John Cawdery
- kathy BUNDRED
- William Price
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