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Geoffrey Roberts Award goes to tsunami fund raiser

The winner of this year’s Geoffrey Roberts Award will use her bursary to help fishermen in south Sri Lanka regain their livelihoods.

Mary Taylor, who won the £3,000 (US$5,500) travel bursary, plans to travel to the ravaged Sri Lankan coastline to learn more about local culture, fishing methods and cuisine.

When she returns to her native New Zealand, Taylor says she will use her knowledge to raise funds for Project Oru 100, which aims to provide 100 outrigger boats (orus, pictured) for three seaside villages. The boats are essential for the fishing communities which saw 80% of them destroyed in last year’s devastating tsunami.

Taylor intends to fund the project via a series of food-related presentations around New Zealand.

She already has extensive knowledge of Sri Lanka, having been running food tours of the island’s tea plantations for some time. Although the project is not very large in scope, Taylor believes it will have a measurable effect.

‘I know the part of the southern coast with which I am involved is only a drop in the ocean in the great scheme of things, but it is an area where we can actually see and measure positive impact,’ said Taylor.

The runner-up for the award was Viv Menon, whose Anglo-Indian family lives near St-Emilion. His aim is to aid India’s fledgling wine culture and market. The Geoffrey Roberts Trust aims to fund his trip to visit wine producers in the country.

The Geoffrey Roberts Award, named after the late New World wine importer, is an annual travel bursary worth around £3,000, awarded to ‘deserving potential achievers’ in the world of food and/or drink. It has been running since 1996.

Written by Oliver Styles

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