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Chocolate Collective’s Top 10 Moments from a choc-tastic 2019

There’s something about this time of year that makes everyone want to curl up on the sofa with a hot chocolate to reflect somewhat sagely on the year gone by. As we count down to Christmas and think of all our family, friends and colleagues, I wanted to share with you a few of the things that have really mattered to me this year.

2019 has been momentous for the Chocolate Collective family. So to round up the year in style, here are my top 10 memorable moments from what can only be described as yet another chocolate-y adventure.

1. Chocolate in Chorley - Westmorland School, Chorley

I was thrilled to be invited once again to Westmorland School in Chorley to run another chocolate making workshop. Westmoreland is a school for children with learning and behavioural difficulties covering both primary and secondary levels. It is a truly warm and friendly learning environment and the children were super keen to learn about chocolate. They were really engaged and listened to what I was telling them about chocolate. They had already learned so many interesting facts about chocolate and the history of it (which they were telling me without me asking!). I had the most wonderful time with the 10 children in the workshop, making lollipops and teaching piping. It was an interactive and unforgettable experience with some fantastic little chocolate lovers.

2. Chocolates that mean business - A Corporate Team event

An alternative idea to the usual corporate team building events, NIHR (National Institute for Health) based in Leeds, held their quarterly team building day with me! Fun and creative, our Chocolate Truffle Making Workshops are great at getting everyone involved and working together. We did have one reluctant chocolatier (gasp!) who initially didn’t want to get chocolate-y hands but eventually succumbed to the delights of melted chocolate! She’s now so inspired she plans on making some chocolate creations with her children. It was a chocolate epiphany! What a wonderful way to end the workshop.

3. Sweet and thoughtful Christmas gift bags

It’s not very often I get to create beautiful bespoke chocolates for clients who are looking for something different so I was thrilled to be approached by a Reflexology Business in Altrincham to do just that. They are unusual chocolates that are fun and relevant to her business – something special to thank her clients. I’m sure her customers will love them just as much as I enjoyed making them.

4. Chocolate & Children- Brownies and Rainbows and Schools oh my!

Like Batman and Robin, or milk and cookies, chocolate and children are the perfect pairing!

Chocolate and children a great mix!

I’m incredibly lucky to be involved with lots of children’s events like birthdays or working with the Brownies and Rainbows to earn their chocolate badges and of course all the schools I go in to. Working with children is wonderful especially seeing their faces light up, hearing the excitement in their voices when they see, smell and taste the chocolate. One memory that particularly sticks in my mind was when I was in a school, telling them the surprising fact that chocolate may eventually become extinct according to the experts’ predictions. I asked them why they thought this might be the case… one boy answered…”Climate Change”. I was blown away with his response, as this is very much a contributing factor. I let the boy know his answer was 110% correct and gave him a high five. Can you imagine a world without chocolate? It really doesn’t bear thinking about.

5. Delicious Chocolate fun with the Bride Tribes

Yummy chocolate hen do!

Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, who doesn’t love chocolate? There’s been lots of laughter and lots of yumminess with the fantastic hen parties I’ve had the pleasure of hosting on workshops this year. I’ve loved being part of their celebrations, especially when they decorate the room with banners, balloons and confetti – it’s just a great way to celebrate and something that’s perfectly suitable for Aunties, Mums and future Mums-in-law! You know you’ve had a good session when they all licked their spoons! I’m sure these workshops will be remembered long after the chocolates have been eaten, as they’ve all been really special events and delicious fun for me.

6. Temple Newsam Events - Jacobean meets Cocoa bean!

Temple Newsam 2019

Temple Newsam House, set in beautiful and extensive parkland, is a treasure trove of opportunity for visitors of all ages and interests and I’ve been thrilled to be part of their events repertoire. I recently hosted a two-day event workshop (40 people each day) in their glorious Great Hall. Visitors were treated to a tour of the magnificent Tudor-Jacobean country house, welcomed on to my workshop and then indulged further with a post- workshop afternoon tea. In winter months there is often a quieter pace of visitors to Temple Newsam, so events and workshops like mine help stimulate interest and are wonderfully Christmassy. They never fail to fill me with festive cheer!

7. Chocolate & Charity – Walthew House & Mellor Country House

Walthew House chocolates

It’s so important to give back and I feel privileged to be able to offer my expertise, and workshops as a way of doing so. I’m proud to have been supporting Walthew House, a charity that provides practical and emotional support to people that are blind or visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing. It’s a charity that is very close to my heart following my own major eye surgery. I’ve also been working with Mellor Country House, which provides a safe relaxing environment for financially and socially disadvantaged people plus families and carers whom desperately need a break. Through chocolate demonstrations, master-classes, and offering workshops for prizes, in my own small way, I hope to make a difference. Chocolate can help to bring a wry smile to faces and is a simple but universally appealing treat for people. I applaud the amazing work the charities do and hope to continue supporting them and their causes next year.

8. A Non- chocolate pleasure – yes really!

Having time off, spending it with friends is my other favourite pleasure. During 2019, Sue, Jane and I took on the challenge of walking part of The Cleveland Way section of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk. Accompanied with Jane’s faithful dog, Clark it was a fabulous couple of days and I really enjoyed the physical challenge, good company and time away. It’s an amazingly varied route and no two days feel the same. Wainwright commented that “more and more people turn to the hills; they find something in these wild places that can be found no-where else.” Surrounded by the beautiful scenery and stunning landscapes I couldn’t agree more.

9. Chocolate-y Togetherness

Chocolate Collective family support

Success – It’s more than simply what you do it’s what others around you enable you to do. I’m incredibly lucky to have an amazingly supportive family. Paul, even with his own demanding job is always there to lend an ear and often spends his weekends driving me around to all my workshops. I’m extremely proud of my daughter Sophie who gained a 2:1 in her first year of university. She really is my chief cheerleader and supporter plus she’s always willing to do some quality testing (eating what I’ve made) if there’s chocolate on offer. There really are not enough words to express how blessed I feel for the support and love both Sophie and Paul have for me.

10. Last but certainly not least, The Chocolate Collective Team

My team, and in particular Rizpah, is the secret ingredient to making the Chocolate Collective business just as amazing as it is. Professional, reliable and just down-right-lovely, she’s just that extra sprinkling of cocoa on the top. I can’t thank Rizpah and the team enough for their help, encouragement and commitment to the Chocolate Collective family and I look forward to another amazing chocolate-coated year ahead together.

2019 - Oh, what a year you’ve been! Life, they say, can often be full of questions but friendship, love and of course chocolate can nearly always (most of the time) be the answer.

So to all my lovely Chocolate Collective customers, may you have a wonderful Christmas and fantastic New-Year. I look forward to seeing you all in 2020.