Hello everyone! Firstly, I would like to thank Kevin for inviting me to join him at Gluten Free by the Sea. It is an amazing opportunity for me to work alongside someone with such a great following, and who is also a great inspiration for many Coeliacs, particularly in the South West.
Here in the South West, you must forgive me for my bluntness, but – we are rather slow at catching on to many things. However, I feel that the seriousness of Coeliac Disease has been one thing that not only the South West lack knowledge about, but it is in fact a National issue that is now gradually being brought into the Lime Light. (Finally!)
Kevin and I are aiming to collaborate our passions about helping others, and also a big one for the both of us – food! We will aim to update you on a regular basis about anything that we feel will be beneficial to you as a Coeliac, and also encourage you to reach a positive understanding of the Disease itself.
But before I go any further, and bore you with the importance of education around Coeliac Disease and any other dietary needs – please let me introduce myself.
My name is Emma Oxland, I am 28 years of age. I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease 8 years ago whilst studying for my degree at University.
I have been part of the Coeliac community in Plymouth for a couple of years now, and I was very fortunate to be introduced to Kevin, along with many other fellow Coeliacs, when I opened The Galley Gluten Free Restaurant back in October 2014. I will be forever grateful for meeting so many supportive, lovely and inspiring people.
I must admit, before opening The Galley, I had no idea of the amount of local people, let alone any other visitors, that were following a Gluten Free diet. (In fact, I didn’t know any one apart from me!) Many of which had been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. However, I was also surprised to meet a great number of customers who had actually self diagnosed themselves.
On the one hand, this made me very angry and upset, that because of the lack of knowledge about this Disease, these poor people had to work everything out by themselves. There was clearly a lack of support from our NHS, and a huge lack of empathy shown towards them by any doctors; they knew they were suffering, but no one officially acknowledged this.
On the other hand, I was relieved and grateful that these people now had somewhere to go out and enjoy food and a chat about their struggles, without being patronised or scrutinised about their need for a particular dietary requirement.
It was of great satisfaction to me to be able to provide our customers with freshly cooked, gluten free food that could be enjoyed by anyone. The main thing for me was that families and friends could go out for a meal and not worry that they would be contaminated or be ill. I am very passionate about EVERYONE being able to enjoy their dining out experience, and feel comfortable with the service, and most of all the food. I will always be so proud of what The Galley achieved, and how it genuinely helped so many people!
Unfortunately, due to health reasons, which I will explain at a later date, I had to leave The Galley in January this year. After my departure The Galley struggled and eventually had to close a few months ago. I am sad to say this has happened, but also have faith that it will happen again, and also with the support of the Coeliac community, will be a great success!
Right, so there you have it – that is how I came to be so passionate about making a difference, because I realised it was possible.
This is why I am so grateful to Kevin; as I am sure that through my general waffling on, and Kevin’s friendly, educational writing, that some people may be inspired by our passion to help others.
I know we are both also hoping that you will find some consolation in the knowledge that we are all in a very similar situation – you are not alone – and we are here to encourage and support you in your situation, and hopefully make eating out, and understanding your condition a lot easier.
Both myself and Kevin (as you know) are very friendly, approachable people. So if any of you have any questions or would like to get in touch, please feel free to contact us and we will be more than happy to help.
Emma, Gluten Free by the Sea