A fundraising dinner, held on February 16, raised 2400 leva for charity Phoenix Inspire which is trying to help the youngsters of the village of Novo Selo near Vidin in northwest Bulgaria.
The dinner, held at a family run restaurant called Mystique, was held to raise funds for a catering school - including a chef and restaurant training centre - that British expat Mick Cooper is aiming to set up in nearby Novo Selo.
Cooper, a former Norfolk-based chef and educational consultant, had the idea for the catering school when he was told about conditions endured by impoverished children and orphans at a home in the area.
Guests included local business people, the governor of Vidin, the mayor of Novo Selo and the bishop of Vidin.
An auction of two bottles of wine donated by the President of the Bulgarian Association of Sommeliers, a signed football shirt and boots from footballer Branimir Kostadinov - dating back to his time with Heart of Midlothian and a one-night stay, including dinner and breakfast at Sofia's Radisson Blu Hotel Sofia raised 600 leva.
"Youngsters in this area of Bulgaria have little prospect of a career, particularly those who live in children’s homes or come from poor families," said Cooper. "The chef and restaurant training centre will offer these youngsters free training and hopefully give them an alternative future other than prostitution or begging". Cooper also cited a recent Eurostat report ranked northwest Bulgaria as the poorest region in the whole of Europe.
Further details of Mick Cooper's charity can be found here.