Kindness from the kitchen raises over £1,500 for Cherry Trees January can be a tough time of year for many local companies to get trade going with people watching their wallets after Christmas. But one local business decided to forego two nights paid custom, during the January dry-spell, choosing to give takings to three local charities instead. La Meridiana restaurant, East Horsley, (www.lameridianarestaurant.co.uk) made the decision to surrender taking payments from diners over two evenings by laying on a three course sit down dinner and free drinks across Tuesday 8th and Wednesday 9th January in exchange for donations instead. Amongst the 100+ diners, Guildford Mayor Cllr Mike Parsons was on the guest list as well as The University of Surrey’s President of The Students Union, Alex Harden, along with local business owners, Trustees from the Charities and regular customers. Fresh figs wrapped in Parma ham, grilled sardines and pancakes oozing béchamel gratin offered the diners more diverse Italian dishes pushing diners into culinary terrains beyond the more familiar menu offerings of spaghetti and pizza. Over £4500 was raised over the two evenings, thanks to diners’ donations and a raffle, with local disabilities charities Cherry Trees, Challengers and RDA Horsley and Bookham all set to equally benefit. All three causes were chosen by the owners because of their wish to help three children’s charities. Duncan Warner, Owner of La Meridiana said; ‘What a buzz! The charity nights were amazing. Really impressed by the generosity of our customers. We have seen amazing support from local people over the last year and we felt we wanted to really give something back to the community and what better way than to support these three amazing local charities that do such good work. We are really upping our game as a restaurant; Pasta is fresh and handmade, our olive oil is cold pressed by two of our customers, bringing the oil back from their grove in Abruzzo every year, whilst fresh seafood is delivered daily. Our fundraising evening let people know we are a restaurant that cares both about the community and contemporary Italian dining.” With a new menu on offer, the restaurant is keen to see new customers visit them in 2019, to enjoy freshly prepared Italian food, after La Meridiana saw the new management duo take over the Ockham Road venue in the last year. Debbie Boulter, Community Fundraiser for Cherry Trees was pleased to be one of the three charities selected to benefit; “As soon as Duncan and (business partner) Massimo, approached us for the Fundraiser, we said yes straight away. We can see La Meridiana really wanted to play their part in the community they sit within and we are right on their doorstep. The Mayor certainly looked like he was enjoying the warm reception, sampling the King Prawns and meeting a new crowd of people all brought together to help raise money. We know many local businesses do a lot for us, and this was a great evening to start the year with, along-side the RDA and Challengers.” La Meridiana has been open since 1992, and is open Tuesday to Sunday, based opposite Horsley train station, Surrey, catering for families with a children’s menu available.