Our Charity

A charity since 1997, The CRUMBS Project (Crumbs) was founded by the late Anne Gardner MBE. Anne recognised the need for those with disabilities or mental health conditions to have a structured programme of support to encourage their learning and professional development.

Charitable objective:
“The promotion of education and social inclusion of disadvantaged individuals, by providing learning and training designed to assist in progress towards better employment and a more independent life through vocational training”.

Based in a dedicated training centre in Bournemouth, Crumbs now provides training in food production and service, housekeeping, administration, and digital skills for adults aged 18-70.

CRUMBS trainees in the kitchen preparing food
CRUMBS trainee learning about food preparation
CRUMBS trainee in the garden
CRUMBS trainees learning about food preparation
Anne Gardner MBE

Anne Gardner MBE
The CRUMBS Project founder
(1931-2017)

"At 17 our daughter Liz started to hear the voices which were to torment her for most of her adult life. There seemed little I could do: every which-way I turned I drew a blank.... and I began to get involved in talking: to others in the same position, to psychiatrists, to nutritionists... anyone who had something to contribute to a puzzle which made no sense.

Then the practical side of me clicked in and I became involved in projects to help those with enduring mental illness, in the days when long-term stay in a mental hospital was often normal and the future looked very dark.

Crumbs sprung from the need for those in long-stay care to have a pattern to their day: a skill at their finger tips and something to talk about. Sadly Liz never became involved, through choice, but many others have now been through the skilled fingers of our dedicated staff team. Working as we did in those days, many badly damaged people came through the doors to our sheltered kitchen environment where so much recovery took place.

Two years after becoming a charity we expanded to include persons with learning disability and stabilised addiction problems and thus we evolved into the mixed disability workforce which is so successful today. Support from Grant-making Trusts enabled us to expand: the staff team and trainee numbers grew and the change to training for independence and employment became our aim.

Liz lost her fight with cancer just as Crumbs Café was opening. I like to think that she would have taken pleasure from just knowing how many have been helped in their struggle to just enjoy life in the Community, even though I was so singularly unable to do the same for her."

Anne Gardner MBE (1931-2017) – The CRUMBS Project founder

Show less Read Anne’s Story

Who We Are

We have a great team including professional trainers, managers and trustees who help us to develop and deliver training and development programmes for disadvantaged adults.
Ursula - Crumbs team member

Ursula

Our Head of Centre, Ursula, has a career background in Hospitality & Catering spanning over 35 years. She oversees all training and development activities…
Lee - Crumbs team member

Lee

Our Head of Operations, Lee, has a background in Hospitality & Catering of over 35 years. He is organised, driven and draws upon his experiences…
Janet - Crumbs team member

Janet

Janet has been working in the Hospitality & Catering industry for over 35 years. After being both a chef and restaurant owner…
Dave - Crumbs trainer

Dave

Dave has over 30 years’ experience of working in the Hospitality & Catering industry including within retail, artisan, and craft bakeries.
Fiona - Crumbs team member

Fiona

Fiona has worked in the Catering & Hospitality sector for over 30 years and has held industrial and private cleaning roles including Head Housekeeper.
Jane - Crumbs trainer

Jane

Jane has been working in the Hospitality & Catering industry for over 25 years and has held Catering Manager roles within cafes and restaurants.
Helen - Crumbs team member

Helen

Helen has a passion for baking and has worked in retail and wholesale bakeries to perfect her skills in making patisserie and baked goods.

From trainees to team members

Amongst our skilled team of support staff are 4 former trainees who have been through their own learner journeys to gain employment in the kitchens and behind the scenes at Crumbs.
Carol - CRUMBS team member

Carol

Training Support Assistant

George - CRUMBS team member

George

Training Support Assistant

Caroline - CRUMBS team member

Caroline

Training Support Assistant

Martin - CRUMBS team member

Martin

Training Support Assistant

Our Trustees

Our Trustees govern and guide the charity, making sure all decisions put the needs of our trainees first. Our current Board of Trustees includes:
Professor Peter A Jones MBE, Chair of Crumbs Trustees

Professor Peter A Jones
MBE (Chair)

Peter has had a portfolio career, as a soldier, where he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel, an academic, where he held appointments as head of school at Bournemouth University…
Mark Collinge, CRUMBS Trustee

Mark Collinge

With more than 30 years of experience in the IT sector, Mark’s skills include supporting businesses by designing IT systems, specifying hardware and implementation of software…
Simon Thomas, CRUMBS Trustee

Simon Thomas

Passionate about the hospitality industry, Simon has a background as a general manager and is a senior academic at Bournemouth University…

Sarah Howard, CRUMBS Trustee

Sarah Howard

A career change in the 1990’s led Sarah away from finance and into hospitality. She retrained at Reading College, obtaining City & Guilds Professional Cookery and a Certificate in Teaching…
Dr Heather Hartwell, CRUMBS Trustee

Dr Heather Hartwell

Heather is a UK registered nutritionist and a member of the Association for Nutrition. She is a Professor at Bournemouth University where her expertise and research are within the field of public health nutrition…
Caroline - CRUMBS team member

Caroline

Training Support Assistant

Working with trainees in the training kitchen is the most rewarding part of my job. No two days are the same and this keeps me on my toes!

Caroline’s favourite food is anything with cheese in.

Sarah Durrans, CRUMBS Trustee

Sarah Durrans

Sarah has over 30 years of experience in working within the social housing sector, starting her career as a Housing Management Trainee for Test Valley Borough Council, and progressing in numerous senior management positions to her current role as Regional Director at the Aster Group. Sarah leads a large operational team and is responsible for a diverse range of customer services to include letting homes, income management, neighbourhood management, anti-social behaviour and customer voice, as well as the provision of services to older and vulnerable customers enabling independent living. In addition to her degree Sarah holds a Professional qualification of the Chartered Institute of Housing and a Diploma in Management Studies.

Sarah has been a member of the Board of Trustees at Crumbs since 2015 and uses her professional skills and experience in strategy and policy development, budgeting, HR, project and change management to support and guide the charity’s development.

“I joined Crumbs as I wanted to actively utilise my professional experience to support others to learn and develop. I am passionate about giving people opportunities to enable them to live independently, particularly older and vulnerable people.”

Dave - Crumbs trainer

Dave

Training Coordinator

Dave has over 30 years’ experience of working in the Hospitality & Catering industry including within retail, artisan, and craft bakeries.

In his role as Training Coordinator, Dave leads the Professional Trainers in the assessment of training progress and supporting trainees to achieve their development plans.

“For me the best thing about working for The CRUMBS Project is having the ability to affect people’s lives and being able to support them to break down barriers. It is so rewarding to see trainees achieve things they never thought they would and to be able to inspire them to change their lives”.

Dave’s favourite food is a steak.

Helen - Crumbs team member

Helen

Helen has a passion for baking and has worked in retail and wholesale bakeries to perfect her skills in making patisserie and baked goods.

Helen leads the training bakery activities at The CRUMBS Project. She trains and mentors trainees to develop their skills across a wide variety of baked goods including cakes, breads, and pastries.

Helen enjoys the challenge of Showcase Meal events at The CRUMBS Project and coaching trainees to improve their baking and presentation abilities.

“Working here is very rewarding. There is always something that each trainee will flourish in. I feel a great sense of pride and achievement when I watch trainees progress and enjoy what they are doing”.

Helen’s favourite foods are the things other people cook for her.

Fiona - Crumbs team member

Fiona

Housekeeping Trainer

Fiona has worked in the Catering & Hospitality sector for over 30 years and has held industrial and private cleaning roles including Head Housekeeper.

Fiona leads the Housekeeping training activities at The CRUMBS Project. She mentors’ trainees through the training programme including teaching them about Health & Safety, COSHH (control of substances hazardous for health) regulations, waste management and housekeeping.

“Crumbs is such a nice place to work. It’s all about helping the trainees and we work together as a team to do this. For example we’ve all enjoyed learning more about the Makaton language programme and how we can use this to give trainees different options to communicate with us using signs, symbols, and speech.”

Fiona has a sweet tooth and her favourite food is cake.

Lee - Crumbs team member

Lee

Head of Operations

Our Head of Operations, Lee, has a background in Hospitality & Catering of over 35 years. He is organised, driven and draws upon his experiences of running his own businesses to facilitate the operations of our training centre with flexibility and resourcefulness.

Lee is a friendly and caring personality. He warmly welcomes everyone to The CRUMBS Project training centre and embodies our charity’s tonal values of inclusion, positivity and being informed.

“I really believe it’s important to focus on the positives, find what people can do and to give them opportunities to learn and progress. We work to adapt our training programmes to meet the individual needs of the trainee, and this really helps to have an impact”.

Lee has a sweet tooth and enjoys cakes and desserts.

Ursula - Crumbs team member

Ursula

Head of Centre

Our Head of Centre, Ursula, has a career background in Hospitality & Catering spanning over 35 years. She has been part of our team since 2005 and oversees all training and development activities at The CRUMBS Project.

Ursula appreciates difference, accepts people for who they are and has been a driving force behind The CRUMBS Project being a role model for Disability Confidence.

“Being neurodivergent myself, I have a real appreciation of other people’s struggles and understanding of how they may feel. I believe we can adapt to find different ways of doing things to help our trainee’s needs and understanding. Seeing our trainee’s achievements at Crumbs, big or small, brings me so much joy.”
Sarah Howard, CRUMBS Trustee

Sarah Howard

A career change in the 1990’s led Sarah away from finance and into hospitality. She retrained at Reading College, obtaining City & Guilds Professional Cookery and a Certificate in Teaching. Her work experience included placements in Michelin-starred restaurants including The Waterside Inn and L’Ortolan in Berkshire, and Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, where her eye for detail was developed.

Sarah is one of 9 female members of The Royal Academy of Arts and joined the Crumbs’ Board of Trustees in 2019. Her experience has included running a series of cookery workshops and demonstrations before joining The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts’ charity, Chefs Adopt a School in 2005, delivering food education to young people across the UK. In 2010 Sarah implemented the training of hospitality professionals to deliver front of house and food education to young people, including SEN students.

Sarah has a large network of hospitality professionals, is a regular judge of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts’ Specialised Chefs programme and in 2017 ran a National campaign for Chefs Adopt a School, achieving national press and TV coverage.

“I have a particular interest in delivering training in hospitality and food education to young people with SEN, as I know that they too are motivated and inspired by food, especially opportunities to handle, prepare and cook. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to learn about and adopt good practice in food and nutrition.”

Professor Peter A Jones MBE, Chair of Crumbs Trustees

Professor Peter A Jones MBE (Chair)

Peter has had a portfolio career, as a soldier, where he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel, an academic, where he held appointments as head of school at Bournemouth University, and the University of West London, and as CEO of the Blue Mountains Hotel School in Australia. His career as a consultant has included as director for the development of the Edge Hotel School, the UK’s first ‘hotel school’ at the University of Essex. He is a director of a number of UK and international organisations and holds roles in UK, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Australia. He is a Fellow of The City and Guilds Institute, The Institute of Hospitality and the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts.

The Chair of Crumbs since 2019, he has been able use his education and training experience to help develop Crumbs as a more resilient and training focused charity that supports individuals through opportunity to transform their lives through skills to live independently and gain employment.

“I have been delighted and impressed by the way both the charity and the trainees have been able to respond to the challenges caused by the pandemic. The changes in the training and the introduction of a new digital skills has enhanced the sense of Crumbs as a community and provides essential life skills for the future.”.

Mark Collinge, CRUMBS Trustee

Mark Collinge

With more than 30 years of experience in the IT sector, Mark’s skills include supporting businesses by designing IT systems, specifying hardware and implementation of software. For the last 20 years Mark has been Managing Director of Collinge IT. He is currently studying for an MA in Philosophy at the University of Southampton.

Mark has a strong social conscience and wanted to work with a charity supporting his passion for ‘learning for life’ and helping individuals with learning difficulties develop real world skills towards independent living.

“The study of Philosophy and Ethics has taught me the importance of what we owe to each other. I can think of no better gift than the training and important social and life skills provided by The CRUMBS Project.”

Douglas Eyre, CRUMBS Trustee

Douglas Eyre

Douglas trained as a Chartered Accountant in Bournemouth before moving to Bristol to work for Coopers & Lybrand and Gateway Foodmarkets. After returning to Dorset, Douglas became a Managing Partner for Willis Parsons and subsequently Chair of Princecroft Willis LLP. Douglas has been an active member of local councils, having been first elected to Bournemouth Council in 1979, served on various committees and outside bodies, Leader of Council between 1991 and 1999 and subsequently Mayor. Since retiring from practice Douglas became Non-Exec Chair of an events and communications business UKSV Ltd, based in Ringwood.

Douglas has served as a Trustee on a number of bodies including the BSO, Broadway Park Housing Association, Beaufort Community Association, All Saints Church Southbourne PCC and has been past Chair of Bournemouth CAB, Bournemouth Music Competitions Festival and Bournemouth Liberal Democrats, All Saints Dramatic Society and The Crumbs Project.

“I am committed to using my knowledge and experience as a Board member to guide charities to make the right decisions that impact on people’s lives. I have a belief in the importance of promoting independence for people with learning difficulties and following the end of my tenure as Chair of Crumbs in 2019, I am pleased to continue as a Trustee to help to make a difference to the trainees’ lives.”

George - CRUMBS team member

George

Training Support Assistant

It’s so nice to see trainees grow in confidence during their time here. They come out of their shells and become more comfortable and chattier.

George’s favourite food is a spicy curry.

Stephen Murcer, CRUMBS Trustee

Stephen Murcer

Steve by profession is a banker and with a career spanning over 40 years he latterly led teams that specialised in the leisure sector across the Southwest of England. Based in Bournemouth, he funded many hotel and leisure sector acquisitions as well as being portfolio lead for the sector.

After taking early retirement Steve became a restaurant, hotel and business venue judge for the South-West of England Tourism Awards run by Visit England. As a trustee Steve brings a thorough understanding of risk assessment, financial reporting and business strategy to the charity.

“I am pleased to be able to use my background in financial services and business strategy to help to guide Crumbs to make responsible and sustainable decisions as the charity navigates through the challenges facing the third sector.”

Simon Thomas, CRUMBS Trustee

Simon Thomas

Passionate about the hospitality industry, Simon has a background as a general manager and is a senior academic at Bournemouth University where he lectures in Strategy, Human Resource Management and Personal Development and supports learners to develop their careers. 

Simon has experience of establishing and developing charities, having worked extensively in Eastern Europe, and joined the Board of Trustees at CRUMBS in 2021.

“It’s important to me to give back to our local community and promote positive social connections. The hospitality industry has opportunities for people of all backgrounds and the work of CRUMBS connects people and provides the potential for a life-long career path”.

Jordan Stovold, CRUMBS Trustee

Jordan Stovold

Jordan is a Product Owner and Strategic Analyst working on new product development and innovation in the software industry. He holds a degree in Business with Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management. Previously, Jordan worked in management consultancy for catering and hospitality in the public, healthcare and education sectors. He was also a founding Director of a virtual reality marketing agency.

Having studied locally at Bournemouth University and settled in the area, Jordan was looking for ways to positively impact the community when the opportunity to join Crumbs as a Trustee arose. He offers skills primarily related to digital initiatives and strategic planning.

“It is a privilege to act as a custodian for an established local charity which provides great opportunities to local disadvantaged people. I hope to contribute to the continued and sustainable evolution of the Crumbs Project long into the future.”

Christopher Wakefield, CRUMBS Trustee

Christopher Wakefield

Chris is a management professional and a member of the Institute of Hospitality, who worked in the catering industry for over 30 years. He has been involved in charitable work for over 25 years including setting up three different charities and being chair of two of them. Chris was a Bournemouth Councillor for 12 years, working for the ward of Boscombe West which is when he became involved with Crumbs

“I feel passionately about supporting people and I am extremely proud of the positive outcomes that Crumbs achieves with trainees.”

Dr Heather Hartwell, CRUMBS Trustee

Dr Heather Hartwell

Heather is a UK registered nutritionist and a member of the Association for Nutrition. She is a Professor at Bournemouth University where her expertise and research are within the field of public health nutrition particularly as it relates to food service and food security. Her work puts academic impact from nutritional aspects of health and well-being into practice in a new and unique way and provides simple strategies for building healthier communities. A ‘whole systems’ approach is taken which integrates facets of consumer behaviour, nutrition, business practice and environmental sustainability.

She is delighted to be part of CRUMBS, guiding learning and development programmes which enable disadvantaged adults to live independently.

“It is a pleasure and privilege to be invited to join the board of Trustees. I welcome the opportunity to support an organisation that can make a significant difference to people’s lives through vocational training”.

Janet - Crumbs team member

Janet

Digital Skills Trainer

Janet has been working in the Hospitality & Catering industry for over 35 years. After being both a chef and restaurant owner, she retrained as a teacher to combine her two passions of food and helping people explore their capabilities.

Janet is our Digital Skills Trainer. She works with trainees in small groups and 121 training sessions to promote digital inclusion and give trainees the digital skills they need for employment and independent living.

“I enjoy the gift of time with trainees. The most rewarding thing about working for The CRUMBS Project is helping a trainee to make a step they didn’t think they could do and watching their confidence grow”.

Janet’s favourite foods are cheese and chocolate.

Martin - CRUMBS team member

Martin

Snak Pak Support Assistant

“I like everything about my role with Snak-Pak. I enjoy being able to supervise the trainees, helping with the processes and passing on my knowledge and skills to them. Having this job has boosted my confidence, particularly dealing with the people I meet in the different places we deliver Snak-Pak boxes to.”

Martin’s favourite food is curry, the spicier the better.

Carol - CRUMBS team member

Carol

Training Support Assistant
I always enjoy being at Crumbs. The trainees are great company and we have a good time working together in the Bakery. My own traineeship helped me to learn new skills and have confidence in myself. It is great to be able to share this experience with the trainees.
Carol’s favourite food is a traditional roast dinner.
Jane - Crumbs trainer

Jane

Jane has been working in the Hospitality & Catering industry for over 25 years and has held Catering Manager roles within cafes and restaurants.

Jane is a friendly and hardworking member of the team at The CRUMBS Project where she leads the training kitchen activities. Here she trains and mentors trainees to develop their cookery skills across a wide variety of dishes and work to commercial catering standards.

Jane enjoys the interaction with trainees, staff team, Hibberd Court residents and visitors to The CRUMBS Project training centre where no two days are the same.

“I really have good fun working with the trainees. We work hard in the kitchen, it’s really busy but we also like to enjoy working together as a team. I think it’s really important to treat everybody as individuals. Finding the best way to talk to each individual trainee helps to build trust and my personal relationship with them. Seeing the progress trainees make from being new to Crumbs, through their journey to moving on is the most rewarding part of my job.”

Jane’s favourite food is cottage pie.