Listen to the podcast to discover how Fiona was born in a military hospital in Aldershot, whisked away to life on an Army base in Germany and then sent at age eight to boarding school. Fiona’s background might mistakenly be described as that of a “typical Army kid” but, in fact, both her diverse wider family and her unconventional schools engendered in her a strong sense of independence, a love of travel, and a lifelong interest in both people and food.
Her early career in tourism satisfied many of these interests, working in different roles in several countries. However after some years Fiona wanted to put down roots, so came back to England and started a career in Human Resources, working in a diversity of industries including Public Heath England. This phase of Fiona’s career lasted for several years during which time she gained an MSc in Occupational Psychology and worked both in-house and as an external consultant.
Fiona decided she wanted to work in an area that she was passionate about – food and communities. She knew she wanted to create a business that did ‘good’, moving away from traditional charity models and drawing on the success of business to support others. Discovering the Social Enterprise model was a ‘light bulb’ moment for her.
Fiona knew she wanted to do something involving food, and at first she started out with an international project in Ghana, with a successful mission delivering fuel efficient stoves to over 100 women and families. Next Fiona identified that edible surplus food is thrown out at the end of every day by supermarkets, food shops and restaurants, and that nothing (at that time) was being done about it. Thus The Pantry Partnership was born, with an aim to reduce food waste and to help people back at home to find ways to feed themselves and their families well through the use of this perfectly good to eat surplus.
The activities of The Pantry Partnership include pop-up cafés, food workshops, food events, and – during the pandemic – delivering food to those who have been shielding. Fiona says that none of these things could have been achieved without her fantastic volunteers who have contributed both ideas and energy to the project from the start.
Her advice to women who wish to pursue their own dream is “follow your heart; do something you love; if you can also find a way to make a difference, even better – whatever you do – just give it a go…”
Fiona Ollerhead has certainly done that. If you would like to find out about Fiona’s journey, her influences, and how she achieved her aim, listen to the podcast below.