Monday, 7 November 2011

Former Norwich Hotel School Head – Working with Young Chefs in Bulgaria

Mick Cooper, former Head of the Hotel School at City College, Norwich visited the city last Thursday with three young people from a children’s home in Bulgaria. The visit was part of the work of Mr Cooper’s Phoenix Inspire NGO, set up in Bulgaria in 2008 to teach catering skills to young people at the children’s home in the village of Novo Selo, Vidin region, the poorest region in Europe.

The visit to Norwich included an overnight stay at De Vere Dunston Hall and trips to Debut Restaurant, City College and Norfolk & Norwich NHS University Hospital catering.

Mick Cooper explained: “I visited Novo Selo and its children’s home in 2008. The children had no opportunities and faced a difficult future after leaving the home aged 20. There were no jobs in the area – as many as 80% of the young people ended up working in prostitution. I thought that I could do something, so sold up and moved to Novo Selo and set up the Phoenix Inspire NGO.”

“The children never had Christmas presents or birthday parties. But thanks to supporters in the UK, we have been able to ensure that these significant dates are celebrated. We also teach English and catering skills to the children. They are now motivated and can see that they have a future”

“The reason for the visit to England was to show Maria, Iglika and Elvis the variety of jobs available in the catering industry,” added Mick Cooper, “four star hotels like Dunston Hall, hospitals, restaurants and cafes.”

Denis McEvoy, General Manager De Vere Dunston Hall said: “Mick Cooper’s work in Bulgaria is inspirational. I was pleased to welcome his group to Dunston Hall and support the education work that he is doing in Novo Selo.”

For more information about Phoenix Inspire see To contact Mick Cooper email

Photograph taken at De Vere Dunston Hall: front L to R Maria Petrova (16), Iglika Aleksieva (13) and Elvis Milkov (18), the students from the children’s home; back L to R Latinka Petrova (social worker), Mick Cooper, Valentin Asparohov (translator) and Denis McEvoy General Manager Dunston Hall.