I sat down with Nikki Owens, the brains behind the Great Cornish Egg n Spoon Race, which will take place from the 3rd-7th of July! St Ewe Free Range Eggs are attempting a world record: The greatest distance to carry an egg in one week in an attempt to raise £1,000,000 for Hospitality Action & Cornwall Air Ambulance.

What inspired you to come up with the egg n spoon race?

There's quite a lot of doom and gloom around at the moment. The past three years have been pretty awful, particularly for the hospitality industry. I was walking through my village only a few weeks ago and another for sale sign was outside a previously thriving business. Every newspaper you read, it's all about the cost-of-living crisis, about how people are struggling. One of my nicknames is Tinkerbell. I'm a really positive person and I was just thinking of a way that I could make people smile or bring together the community and sort of give the hospitality industry a voice.

How did you land on the Guiness World record beating egg n spoon race?

I thought by doing something as nostalgic and completely bonkers like the world's longest egg and spoon race, that would put a smile on people's faces! The response from from the local community and people right across the hospital industry has just been phenomenal.

Which charities are you supporting and how much do you hope to raise?

We're looking to raise £1 million for Hospitality Action and The Cornwall Air Ambulance. It's a lofty target, but one of our values as a company is that we like to be bold. And if you don't go big, go home! Both charities have just done the most phenomenal work, keeping us safe and supporting the hospitality industry over this time.

Can you talk about the work that hospitality action does?

They support the entire hospitality industry. From people with drug addictions, money problems to help finding work... You name it. They have a whole range of support services to help hospitality people back on their feet after a setback. It's a very challenging industry to be in. Each year they help thousands of people through these challenging times. And they exist as a kind of safety net. It's just somewhere for people to reach out and have some sort of support. And it’s actually been around for a very, very long time, since 1837.

What’s your experience of the hospitality industry?

It’s tough, mental health issues are rife, and people work such long hours. I used to work in hospitality myself, and two of my brothers and my mum are chefs. We used to run pubs and wine bars and everything in my family. I understand it from that point of view and now being in the food production side of things, I see it from both sides. And it is this kind of ripple effect that's just come from Brexit, from the cost-of-living crisis, Covid. It just goes on and on and on. And that's why I really felt like, something had to be done, particularly as an act of support from the food production side, by St Ewe. It's our turn to support those in our industry because half our business is restaurants and food servers. So I think we all have to stick together during these times.

How did St Ewe handle the Covid crisis?

We were very proactive. I mean you can't furlough a chicken! All of our eggs just kept coming in! We're a family company and that's an ethos that goes right the way through the team, not just with the Tonks family who are our founders but all the way through to our producers as well. So when that happened, the farmers still needed to be paid and need an outlet for the eggs. And we just thought, what are we going to do? So, we set up the "shell out to help out" campaign. The team would go out to lay-bys and rugby stadium grounds and running drive-thru egg sales. People would turn up in their car, buy a tray of eggs at cost price, so we could pay our farmers and cover our costs. Making no money ourselves...

How does St Ewe help support food insecurity in the UK?

During lockdown each tray that we sold, we donated a carton of eggs to local food banks. It was the beginning of our really being able to understand the severity of the food insecurity issue in the U.K. Two and a half years ago in Cornwall alone there were 33,000 families who could not afford to eat every day. So now, our pledge is we partner up with FairShare Southwest and if we ever have any surplus eggs or anything, we donate them. We're a very giving community orientated company.

We’re running a ‘donate-a-dish’ scheme for the first time this year, to allow people to donate £3 to their local foodbank.

That’s such a great, feel-good thing! We all just need to support each other a lot more. And I really feel that there's a lot of isolation going on. But it’s at times like this, if we all sit together, we're much stronger.

Have you had any chefs confirm the egg and spoon race?

We have had confirmation that Mr. Ramsay will be supporting the event, he won’t be able to come himself, he's going to be away filming, sadly, but he wholeheartedly stands behind everything the event represents. He has a home down here and is an ambassador of the Cornwall Air ambulance. These chefs so busy, but the teams will be coming along to support!

How will you be dividing up the distance for the race?

We've got north and south coast teams. The north coast is my team, the great egg-splorers. And then on the South Coast, we have Team Egg-streme. It’s five days, three hikes a day, roughly ten, 11 miles each, well over a marathon every day.

It’s on very uneven terrain, so we’ve been on practice runs every weekend.

What has the response been like in the local area?

The most amazing thing that's coming out of it is this incredible community… we've got this one guy… I won't mention any names! But his diet is pretty much eating Monster munch and consuming energy drinks. And he used to dread exercise, but I dragged him out one day and he flatlined about twice on the first two goes, but then got back up and is now seeing the results of training! Some members of their team are taking their families out for big walks for the first time in a long time, just enjoying the area we live. We're so fortunate and really, it’s just about getting out and loving where you live.

We at Pub in the Park, wish Nikki and the St Ewe team all the very best for their Guinness world record egg n spoon race. If you would like to donate directly head to their website here!

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