Fifteen years ago Belinda Williams set up Yorkshire Provender developing tasty soups using fresh ingredients in her North Yorkshire kitchen.
Now the Melmerby-based soup company is owned by food manufacturer Hain Daniels, but it seems the ethos has not changed.
“Belinda and her husband Terry are still very much involved in the business,” says Nadine Maggie, managing director at Hain Daniels which bought out the Williams’s in 2017.
“They still come in every month and taste test the soups.”
She said even though they were part of a big company, Yorkshire Provender was treated differently to other parts of the business.
“It is really important that we keep the essence of Yorkshire Provender. That means we continue to work with local fresh herb producer Herbs Unlimited which is what makes Yorkshire Provender soup different to other soups.”
Belinda is also involved in the collaboration between Yorkshire Provender and the youth homeless charity Centrepoint, on a competition collaboration called ‘Big Broth’.
Two years ago Yorkshire Provender was approached by Centrepoint to see of they could help the charity.
They came up with the Big Broth idea.
It would involve a competition which would see members of the public enter their favourite soup recipe and eventually a winner would be chosen by an expert panel, including Belinda Williams, whose soup would become the latest Yorkshire Provender soup.
Twenty pence from each pot of soup would then be donated to Centrepoint.
Last year the highlight of the collaboration was when Centrepoint’s patron, Prince William visited one of Centrepoint’s Yorkshire sites in Barnsley with Catherine, and during it he heated up the winning Yorkshire Provender Centrepoint soup for lunch and served it to young people that Centrepoint support.
The competition raised £50,000 for the charity.
This year’s winner was Richard Norman whose Carrot and Red Lentil Soup will hit the shelves in September.
William Sitwell, Spencer Matthews, Ching He Huang and Thomasina Miers joined Belinda at the charity’s Soho Learning Centre. Richard’s secret of adding parsley salsa swung it for him,
Richard, 54, from Henley on Thames used to live in Doncaster and travelled to Melmerby to cook up his soup which will be reproduced on a grand scale.
The keen home cook, who loves making tasty vegetarian meals for himself and his wife decided to enter the competition having witnessed first-hand the number of people living in shop doorways and on the streets. He wanted to do his part to tackle homelessness.
Following a unanimous vote, the judges described the winning soup as ‘fresh’, ‘tasty’ and different from what they’d ever tasted before. The soup will be produced by the experts in soup, Yorkshire Provender and will be available in supermarkets nationwide in September.
Yorkshire Provender aims to sell over 400,000 pots of Carrot & Red Lentil Soup.
“For me, the final was one of the happy days of my life. I was amongst so many positive people, all dedicated to improving the life and prospects of young people who have not had the best of starts.
“I first entered The Big Broth for fun, but as I read more I became engaged with the possibility of my soup helping homelessness.
“It’s been a neglected issue. I’m hopeful that a new era of compassion is beginning and I’d be proud to be a part of that.”
“My Carrot & Red Lentil Soup is cheap and easy to make with nutritious ingredients that are available all year round.
“I’m thrilled and honoured that it’s won and I hope it goes on to raise a large amount of money for Centrepoint.”
Faye Edmondson, head of corporate and regional fundraising said the money raised from the Big Broth would directly help young homeless people.
“Centrepoint works with homeless 16-25 years olds. We provide safe an secure accommodation and any extra support they need,” she explains.
“We also teach them important life skills such as how to cook for themselves and managing money.
“We also act as a rent guarantor and run a rent deposit scheme as many of them can’t afford a deposit on a flat.”
She said the majority of young people came to them either because of a family or partnership breakdown or after exiting the care system.
In Yorkshire, Centrepoint works in Bradford and Barnsley and helps more than 200 young homeless people.
She said although the charity received some statutory funding it relied on partnerships like the one with Yorkshire Provender to survive.
Having the support of Prince William, who took over as patron after the death of his mother, Diana Princess of Wales , was also very important.
“We are very lucky that he decided to come on board and he has been an active supporter of our work.
“Soup and homelessness have long been associated and this just takes it a step further.”