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The Big Dinner: Interview with Olivia Giles

We’re delighted to be supporting the highly worthwhile cause; The Big Dinner – find out more here.

We’ve got lots in the pipeline in the lead up to The Big Dinner on 7th March 2015 but in the meantime founder Olivia Giles kindly took some time out of her busy schedule to tell us what has inspired her to bring this wonderful project to life.

The Big Dinner is part of 500 miles, a charity you founded yourself after undergoing a quadruple amputation to save your life. Please share with us the key factors that influenced you to pursue such a worthwhile path.

A strong feeling of gratitude for being so lucky to have survived and to have the quality of life that I have – and a feeling of obligation to make the most of my second chance. The fact that in this country our NHS provides our healthcare free whereas in many countries in Africa, the meagre prosthetic and orthotic services, if any, are beyond the means of most people.

How and when did the idea for The Big Dinner come about?

About 3 years ago when a friend said to me as she got up to get ready to go out to a ball that she would rather just donate the ticket money and stay in with her friends with a takeaway.

Not everyone likes balls and not everyone can afford them and I wanted to do something different – something new – that everyone can take part in at a level of effort and cost that feels comfortable to them.

And why specifically patients in Malawi and Zambia?

500 miles started working in Malawi because of the strong existing links between Scotland and Malawi and because of its extreme poverty. Zambia was in the frame partly because it is next door to Malawi but also because when researching the possibilities I made some constructive links very early on. In both of these countries there were existing prosthetic and orthotic services which had been run down. That meant I didn’t have to start from absolute scratch.

Olivia Giles - The Big Dinner
What has been the most challenging aspect of co-ordinating the event so far?

Getting people to actually register to hold a dinner! It is so easy to do – simply visit the Big Dinner website, register and once you do, you are kept up to date with all that is going on.

You’ve already raised a lot of support from some well know faces can you elaborate on the celebrity support you’re receiving? 

We were delighted that Nick Nairn agreed to be our in-house celebrity chef and that Fred MacAulay will compere the online programmes on the night. The programmes will also feature Christopher Biggins, Ian Rankin, Sandy McCall Smith, Andy Nicol, Hardeep Sing Kohli, Amy MacDonald and many more well known faces.

We will be auctioning the chance to have dinner with some of these people – and some more celebrities who have yet to be revealed.

And after the Big Dinner (other than a large glass of wine and a big pat on the back!!) what is next for you?

I would like to start building a 500 miles clinic in Lusaka, Zambia – if we make enough money.

You are a very inspirational lady, if you could share only one piece of ‘life’ advice what would it be?

You only get one shot – and it’s a not a practice run. If you want to have done something, start it now.

Please visit The Big Dinner to find out more or register your support.

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