AROUND 40 representatives from local charities and businesses were given a preview of Taunton School’s ambitious new £3.6 million kitchen and dining room redevelopment.

Guests were treated to a selection of canapés made by the school’s in-house catering team, led by head chef Lisa Richards, at the Champagne reception recently (October 24).

Nicola Miller, Taunton School’s Chief Operation Officer, said the new facilities were both for the school and the local community and she hoped local organisations would use the venue for events throughout the year.

While the primary aim of the redevelopment was to create a light, airy and relaxing environment for the school’s students, the new facilities will also help the school to support funded-places for pupils using income generated by hiring out the venue.

“We serve 200,000 lunches a year but this much needed redevelopment offers a fantastic facility for both the community and local businesses, as well as our own students,” Ms Miller said.

The new dining hall will be equipped to cater for 1,600 covers and seat up to 400 people at any one time. It will be built using sustainable materials and uses the latest lighting technology and energy-saving devices, in line with Taunton School’s environmental policy.

Among the invited guests were Melanie and Alan Hardy from Wellington Rotary Club who were impressed by the facilities on offer: “It’s great to be able to have a sneak preview of these wonderful new facilities – we will certainly consider this as a venue for next year.”

Nigel Pearce, President of Taunton Chamber of Commerce, said the redevelopment offered local businesses an excellent venue for events and he welcomed the investment made by the school.

Ms Miller said the school would use income from businesses and organisations using the new facilities to help pay for the education of pupils as part of the Assisted Places scheme at Taunton School.

Local butcher, Malcolm Pyne praised the school’s ambition and said the new dining room and kitchen would enable the catering team to keep pace with all the latest innovations. Taunton School prides itself on supporting the local economy – it already uses a host of local suppliers, including Pyne’s of Somerset for meat and Longman’s Dairy for dairy produce.

Taunton architect Chris Donoghue of award-winning architects Wotton and Donoghue designed the new building, while Dorchester-based construction firm CG Fry will complete the build.

Unlike other schools, Taunton School does not outsource its catering and the new facilities will revolutionise the daily routine for the school’s 40-strong catering team.

The build commenced in July 2019 and is due to be complete by Easter 2020. Find out more about the Dining Room project by clicking here.