Celebrity chef Lesley Waters on hand to help during official sixth form opening

CELEBRITY chef Lesley Waters gave a helping hand to students at the official opening of a new sixth form in Christchurch.

The star was among guests as charity Autism Unlimited unveiled its new Portfield School Sixth Form on March 22.

A professional training kitchen is among facilities on offer at the former Airfield Road warehouse, which has been redeveloped into a sixth form venue.

Other visitors at the official opening included Councillor Vivienne Charrett, Mayor of Christchurch, enjoying guided tours of the new building, the chance to meet teachers and enjoy entertainment from the Portfield School Sixth Form Band.

Chef Lesley, a regular on ITV’s James Martin’s Saturday Morning and Ready Steady Cook, joined in the fun, staging healthy food masterclasses with students in the kitchen.

She has previously supported Autism Unlimited’s Big Brekkie campaign and has hosted parents and carers of students at her Dorset cookery school.

“It was wonderful to spend time with Portfield School Sixth Form students and tutors at their amazing new building, and to share some tips on ways they can cook simply and healthily in their fabulous new kitchen,” she said.

“Autism Unlimited has been supporting autistic children, young people and their families across the region for over 50 years and I am proud to be able to show my appreciation for that work.

“It’s deeply satisfying for me to see how the new sixth form is helping young autistic people to transition so successfully into adulthood.”

Celebrity chef Lesley Waters with students in the new kitchens at Portfield School Sixth Form

Celebrity chef Lesley Waters with students in the new kitchens at Portfield School Sixth Form

Among the students cooking with Lesley was Luke, who said: “Lesley is really nice and a brilliant cook. I have learned some very important tips from her today.”

Fellow student Jack added: “I’m really enjoying coming to the new sixth form building because it is so modern and has lots of great facilities.

“I especially like the gym because I want to get fitter and the recording studio where we can play, write and record our own music.”

Portfield School Sixth Form was designed in consultation with students and built with the support of BCP Council.

Leader of the council, Vikki Slade (Lib Dem, Broadstone), joined the guests in touring the building and meeting staff and students.

In addition to the impressive training kitchen, the building has modern tutor rooms, workshop areas, social areas and outdoor space.

The kitchen, outdoor trampoline and sensory garden, together with the recording studio have all been possible thanks to a number of grants and individual donors, including a £10,000 donation from the Talbot Village Trust.

READ MORE: Celebrity chef Lesley Waters to open new Christchurch sixth form

Siún Cranny, CEO of Autism Unlimited, said: “Portfield School Sixth Form aims to nurture talent, and foster success and fulfilment in adulthood.

“Our new building is an environment in which young people thrive and it’s been wonderful to open its doors to the public and show people what we do.

“We are immensely grateful to Lesley Waters for attending the launch. Her knowledge of food, cooking and nutrition is incredibly beneficial to us all, and I know her visit will prompt many of our students to become even more creative in the kitchen.”

Additional entertainment at the launch was provided The Dhol Foundation Drummers and a Ceilidh Band, while the sixth form’s ‘Brew Crew’ of trained student baristas also served hot drinks.

For more information on Portfield School Sixth Form, email

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