By Alexander Lawrie
A TEENAGE jam-making entrepreneur is launching a new charity venture – Super Jam Tea Parties for the elderly.
Fraser Doherty, 19, kicked off the first Tea Party in Edinburgh yesterday, and the young businessman has big plans to roll the events out across Scotland.
The fresh-faced teen has struck deals with retail giants Waitrose who are donating the tea and cakes for the events, and John Lewis who are supplying the teapots, cake stands and tablecloths,
The City of Edinburgh Council has also given its full backing to the charity by providing the venues for the parties free of charge.
The charity idea was initiated by Fraser’s paternal grandmother – the same one who gave him the inspiration for the Super Jam – and her work with the elderly and the housebound.
He said: “I first got the idea about the Tea Parties from my grandmother. My brother and I used to help her when she organised small tea dances for the elderly in her area.
“And since Super Jam took off I always thought it would be a natural progression to do something like this.
“I wanted to bring young and old together because a lot of people never have the opportunity to mix.
“For some of the elderly here today this might be the only time this week they get a chance to have a wee chat with their friends.”
The Scots youngster started out making his sugar free jam in his parent’s small kitchen and soon landed exclusive sales contracts with supermarkets Waitrose and Tesco.
He began by producing up to 1,000 jars per week, selling them to neighbours, farmers’ markets and to customers online.
And the sugar-free substance is now the top-selling jam in many supermarkets stores across the country selling over 500,000 jars per year – with Fraser on his way to becoming a millionaire.
Currently taking a break from studying for a Business Studies and Accountancy degree at Strathclyde University, Fraser has enlisted a team of volunteers to help make the parties go with a swing.
Expert knitters have produced 30 different tea cosies for the event, while students from local colleges and universities will be on hand to serve out the tea and scones.
Fraser said: “I think it is really important to look after the elderly and I’ve always been conscious about trying to put something back into the community.
“And if it is a success, then we’ll hopefully be able to organise events on a national scale.
“I can’t thank all the volunteers enough, it’s so good of them all to get involved in the charity and to give their time for nothing.”
Speaking on behalf of John Lewis Partnership, David Lincoln, a Waitrose branch manager, said how pleased he the company was to be supporting the new charity.
He said: “It’s a fantastic idea and Fraser’s business ethos, which is about putting something back into the community, chimes well with our own.
“We’re sure these Tea Parties will take off in a big way.”
Councillor Norman Work, Vice Convener for Health, Social care and Housing for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “When Fraser first came to me I thought this was a fantastic idea and I am happy that we can use his entrepreneurial ideas to such a good end.
“The opportunity to get out and interact with others is very important as you get older and I’m sure the older people will enjoy the occasion.
“With this excellent example of partnership working and with Fraser’s enthusiasm, these events will hopefully spread across the city.”
The ex-Royal High pupil hit the headlines last year when his homemade health jam business was awarded the Global Student Entrepreneur Award in Chicago – a competition that saw him beat 750 students from around the world to the prestigious title.
By Alexander Lawrie