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Children continue legacy of late nursery founder with pop-up restaurant fundraiser

Pop up restaurant at Rainbow Montessori School in West Hampstead.
 Kitchen staff Ayaan Sheikh, Robyn Arron and Kelyan Hopper. Picture: Nigel Sutton Pop up restaurant at Rainbow Montessori School in West Hampstead. Kitchen staff Ayaan Sheikh, Robyn Arron and Kelyan Hopper. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
4:15 PM

The Rainbow Montessori School Nurseries in Highgate Village and West Hampstead live up to their name – each wall is painted a different shade of blue, pink, yellow or green.

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Linda MaddenLinda Madden

It is the legacy of founder Linda Madden, who poured her life’s work into running four schools that preach creative and independent learning in a beautiful and cheerful setting.

Tragically, she lost her battle with cancer at the age of 54 three years ago.

But her husband John Madden, the school’s director, and her mother, Rita Gromb, work tirelessly to keep her memory alive by upholding her ethos and encouraging pupils to run fundraising activities for a cancer charity.

“She would put colours that you wouldn’t think worked together, like yellows with greens, but that was Linda. She was unique” said Mrs Gromb, 86, of North Finchley.

Pop up restaurant at Rainbow Montessori School in West Hampstead. Picture: Nigel SuttonPop up restaurant at Rainbow Montessori School in West Hampstead. Picture: Nigel Sutton

“Its so cheerful, you walk in and the children are so happy. We also have a teaching college where we train Montessori teachers and Linda always hand-picked the ones she thought were the best.

“We have been told that we are nearly the best Montessori school in London so now we are striving to make it the very best.”

Fundraising events range from cake sales to the school’s annual fair in aid of Look Good, Feel Better – a charity which hosts make-up and hair workshops to boost the self-esteem of cancer patients.

Last week, nine and 10-year-old pupils cooked and served a lavish three-course meal at a “pop-up restaurant” for parents at the Rainbow Montessori Junior School, in Woodchurch Road, West Hampstead.

Fish fingers and potato waffles were strictly off the menu, replaced with Cornish crab cakes, goats cheese and asparagus tart, lamb tagine, salmon en croûte and pomegranate cheese cake.

The children practised for weeks to perfect their dishes, but the hard work paid off as all 30 parents said the quality of the food was ‘‘restaurant standard’’.

The school’s food specialist, Hiroe Fujimoto, started hosting the pop-up restaurant fundraiser shortly after Mrs Madden died.

Mrs Gromb thinks this year’s offering was ‘‘the best ever”.

“It was lovely,” said Mrs Gromb, who often helps out at the school. “The food was locally sourced and was very good. We do this once a year but now we are going to do it more often.”

Most of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Look Good, Feel Better. The rest of the money goes towards funding trips and activities for pupils.

The school is based in West Hampstead but has nurseries in Highgate’s Pond Square and in Queen’s Park.

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