International prize winner, Penny Melville-Brown from Hampshire in the UK, will be in Lilongwe in the next few weeks specifically to cook alongside professional and home-cooks from Malawi’s capital city
In a press statement made available to Malawi Voice Penny said, “I’m lucky enough to have been selected from over 200 candidates from 27 countries as one of the inaugural winners of the Holman prize being run by San Francisco’s LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired organisation. This is my chance to show just what blind people can do and I’m thrilled that local people are keen to get involved. I chose cooking because I’ve always loved it and it is a great universal language that brings people together. Just because I can’t see doesn’t mean that I don’t have bags of ambition, capabilities and a huge drive to change attitudes towards blindness and other disabilities.”
James Holman, after whom the prize is named, lost his sight while serving in the British Royal Navy about 200 years ago. Penny lives close to where James joined the Navy and was a serving naval Commander when she became visually impaired. She set up her company to help many other disabled people in to work and has now created www.bakingblind.com to give a new perspective on life with a disability.
She has already been cooking in America (San Francisco and Virginia Beach), Tamarindo in Costa Rica, Chongqing in China plus Kiama and Melbourne in Australia. Lilongwe is her final stop on this tour but she has many further activities planned when she is back in England plus some plans in Europe. She will create 12 months of videos, blogs and recipes to share worldwide.
This is the inaugural Holman prize created by the San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind organisation and commemorates James Holman, “the blind traveller”, who like Penny, was blinded while serving in the Royal Navy, and went on to travel the world and record his adventures in the early 19th century.
Notes for editors.
1. About Penny. James Holman, after whom the prize was named, and Penny both lost their sight while serving in the Royal Navy – albeit nearly 200 years apart. She reached the rank of Commander and served in NATO Intelligence, war planning, public relations and other roles and also became the first woman barrister in the Royal Navy. Subsequently she established Disability Dynamics (www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk) in 2000: supporting other disabled people to get back to work.
She received a medal as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to disabled and other disadvantaged people in 2009. She started Baking Blind in late 2016 as an alternative way of demonstrating that blind and other disabled people still have many ambitions, capabilities and a zest for life regardless of their impairments. She was then invited to join the Holman competition and is one of the three international winners selected from over 200 blind candidates from 27 countries. Penny will use the $25,000 prize to fund the travel of her and her videographer through six continents, cooking alongside professional and home-cooks, sighted or not, plus a further programme of activities in the UK between September 2017 and September 2018. She will be visiting America (San Francisco and Virginia Beach), Costa Rica (Tamarindo), China (Chongqing), Australia (Kiama and Melbourne) plus Malawi (Lilongwe). Penny will be publishing blogs, recipes and videos through her website: www.baking blind.com and her Baking Blind YouTube channel. There is more detail of her story on the website and many examples of her cooking videos on the channel.
2. About LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Founded in 1902, San Francisco’s LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired promotes the independence, equality and self-reliance of people who are blind or have low vision. LightHouse offers blindness skills training and relevant services such as access to employment, education, government, information, recreation, transportation and the environment. LightHouse also pursues the development of new technology, encourages innovation, and amplifies the voices of blind individuals around the world. To receive services, volunteer or make a donation, visit lighthouse-sf.org.
3. About the other prize-winners. Ojok from Uganda will use his prize to enable more visually impaired people in his country to become more financially independent through bee-keeping. Ahmet from America will kayak across the Bosphorus having developed navigation aids that work for visually impaired people.
4. Baking blind press pack. Key images, text and video links at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/n0uc4pg4qcdw1zi/AADnrXl5JhIqwVoDvwJ5b1kGa?dl=0
5. Contact Penny at Penny@laylands.co.uk