This trust has been set up by my good friend Bronwyn Gray as LAM affects someone in her family. So far the events that I've been able to help with have been a launch dinner for 100 guests at Point 5 Nine restaurant in Point Chevalier, Auckland in 2001. A four course wine lunch at Hotel du Vin, just south of the Bombay Hills out of Auckland in March 2006. Cooking dinner for 12 at a supporters house in the Viaduct Basin in Auckland in late 2006.
The NZ LAM Trust is a non profit organization committed to finding a cure for Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) by providing support, education, information and raising funds for scientific research. Established in Auckland in 1999, the New Zealand LAM Charitable Trust is one of a number of patient and family organisations around the world working alongside scientists, clinicians and researchers, raising awareness about this disease and helping raise funds to support research into its cause and ultimately its cure.
In 1998 I was approached by Karen Linfield who worked at the Hammersmith Hospital to see if I'd donate 2 of my cookbooks to a charity which was then called Leuka 2000. As it happened, I'd actually been a bone marrow donor to my youngest sister Tracey in 1995, and she is still alive and well and has since become a food writer - which she attributes to my marrow. Since that transplant with Tracey, I'd been mulling over the idea of a unique fundraising dinner. Often I'd been one of four or five chefs at a charity dinner where I would cook just one course, and while these dinners are great, and fun, I wanted to create something unique. I talked about this with Karen and we then met with Leuka committee members Hannah Lewis and Bettina Bradfield over honey cake at Hannah's home. In that initial meeting the seeds for the annual dinner were born - its name is Who's Cooking Dinner?. On the evening of the dinner there are 20 chefs and 20 tables of ten guests assembled. Each chef has created a unique 4-course dinner, with matching wines. No menu will be the same. The names of the chefs, and the guests, are drawn from two 'hats' and it's only at that point that the guests know who will be cooking their menu, and what they'll be eating. It's fabulous. The camaraderie in the kitchen is wonderful. The chefs are all at the top of their field, working in cramped conditions, working alongside friends and strangers. The vibe is wonderful and the food is superb. So far we've raised over £6 million and we're still going strong. All money raised on the evening goes towards supporting research into the causes and treatment of leukaemia and other blood cancers. Despite great advances, more research is still needed to find better treatments and cures.
This is New Zealand's only not-for-profit organisation dedicated to helping patients and their families with leukaemia and related blood disorders. Their activities include patient support, education, research advocacy and medical equipment. They receive no government funding.
Every day six children and adults in New Zealand are diagnosed with a blood cancer, that’s around 2,200 New Zealanders a year. My sister had the best possible care in Australia and I wanted to help LBCNZ support patients in my home country. The result is SKYCITY Dining For A Difference, the fundraising dinner that we started in 2007 (based on the Who's Cooking Dinner? event in London), and which has raised over $1 million NZD so far.
The Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre (RMTC) in Auckland opened on 18 March 2004 and is New Zealand's only music therapy centre. It was founded by my good friend and distant cuzzy Hinewehi Mohi - who possesses the most beautiful voice and soul. The centre provides music therapy for special needs children of school age and younger and its focus is around building bridges of communication through music and actively engaging individuals in potential growth, development and change through the power of music. For many people, music helps reduce a sense of isolation and creates new possibilities for participation in the world and a more creative life.
Funding is always a struggle. To contribute to the cause: visit the website or contact the centre on +64 9 360 0889 to find out about instrument purchase donations, fundraising events and more.
I personally am very aware of how skin disfigurement can affect peoples' lives, and am therefore pleased and proud to be an ambassador to RAFT, an award-winning UK charity that carries out medical research that helps people regain their quality of life, independence and dignity after major trauma.
I know how important and often life-changing the work that RAFT does - and will continue to do - really is. Improving the lives of people who have suffered injuries or disfigurement, along with carrying out invaluable research into skin cancer and ways in which to prevent it, is key to what RAFT is all about.
Here's a quick guide to some of RAFT's current work:
Wound Healing — RAFT has taken the Smart Matrix® artificial skin scaffold, developed at RAFT, to clinical trial. The team is also working on a more robust form of Smart Matrix® to treat more complex wounds such as major burns, pressure sores, diabetic ulcers and military injuries.
The Bionic Limb Project — Aiming to give more movement, control and comfort to patients who need to wear prosthetic limbs. RAFT is about to enter the second phase of this project which will focus on making the device ready for use in humans.
Breast Reconstruction — Research to improve reconstruction treatment for women who have had a mastectomy, following breast cancer.
Better Bone Growth — Research into growing bone — to aid surgery for hip and knee replacements, spinal fusions and non-healing fractures.
Facial reconstruction — 3D Printing — Research into personalised facial reconstruction — using 3-D printing, to create personalised facial implants for reconstruction following congenital deformities, cancer or trauma.