Networking is something we all do to a greater or lesser extent and it isn’t often that you can quantify the benefits. However, sometimes it all falls into place. Galbraith joined the Chamber in 2018 and shortly afterwards I attended the Networking Lunch at the Newton Hotel in Nairn. There I met David Munro, a teacher from Nairn Academy, who told me about the café opening at the school to provide both training and a social amenity for upper school pupils. As with all such ventures, funding is key and I saw an opportunity here for Galbraith to support and engage with young people. Working in conjunction with Farmer Jones’ Academy and with support from Highland Council, Highland Catering and Galbraith, the café opened in mid-2019.
The aim of the café is to give pupils work experience in a supportive environment – they are trained in customer service, food preparation, budgeting and management. As part of the Farmer Jones Academy apprenticeships and accredited courses, fresh produce is grown in the poly tunnels in the garden next to the café and used in the food preparation. Coffee-making is now almost an art form and the pupils have been barista-trained so the café can compete with the high street brands. In addition, this is a gathering place within the academy where older pupils and staff can feel removed from the school environment and take some time to relax.
Such is the success of the café that within months of opening, with guidance from the Sundancer Restaurant, a dinner was held here to celebrate the first night of the Nairn Book and Arts Festival. Again Galbraith was able to make this possible by pledging extra support.
The hope is that, in the future, the café can be open to local community groups and possibly even the general public, while, with the right backing, this is a model that could be introduced to other schools.
By providing opportunity for our young people, the business community can help them to follow their own paths rather than feel that the conventional route is all that is open to them.