A STRAWBERRY farmer now living at an Ellesmere Port care home was surprised to hear from Jamie Oliver MBE – after appearing in a TV advert with the celebrity chef a decade ago.
Peter Wensak, 68, ran one of Europe’s largest strawberry farms, called Polehouse Farm, in Lawford, Essex, for over 25 years when Sainsbury’s got in touch to ask if he would appear in one of their adverts.
Now over 10 years since the commercial first aired on TV, Peter’s co-star Jamie Oliver sent a letter and signed photo to the care home where he now lives.
Amy Jones, activities coordinator at Aaron Court Care Home, on Princes Road, wrote to both Jamie and Sainsbury’s to try to get a copy of the advert for a reminiscence session with Peter, who has dementia.
In his return letter, Jamie’s team wrote: “We hear from your activities coordinator Amy that you are living in Aaron Court care home. We hope you and your family are nicely surprised to open this letter today.
“We hear that you owned one of Europe’s largest strawberry farms, based in Lawford, Pole House Nurseries. What caught our attention is that one of your proudest moments was starring in a TV advert with Jamie for Sainsbury’s back in the day.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t get hold of the footage for you as it wasn’t a commercial produced by our production company at the time. However, we hope Sainsbury’s can dig this out for you to have a look at – that would be amazing to reminisce with your family we’re sure.
“We sat down with Jamie and he was touched that Amy took the time to write to us and that you had been proud to stand by him in the TV advert. He has signed a photo for you and we hope this brings back some fond memories.
“We really hope this brings a smile to your day, Peter.”
Peter’s daughter Rachel Simkins sent a message to Jamie on Twitter after they received the letter. She said: “@jamieoliver you’ve absolutely made my dad’s day with your kind letter and signed photo. His dementia means he can’t remember much but he was so proud of the advert he filmed with Jamie. @sainsburys can find a copy of it for us. Thanks Amy @Hill_Care_ for your hard work.”
Activities coordinator Amy said: “When we learned Peter was a strawberry farmer and had appeared in an TV advert with Jamie Oliver we tried to find it online. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find it anywhere.
“We thought it would be great to show it to Peter as part of a reminiscence session, as old photos and videos can be very therapeutic for those living with dementia, and his daughter told us the advert was one of his proudest memories.
“When we couldn’t find it, we wrote to Jamie and Sainsbury’s to tell them about Peter and see if they could send us a copy. We were surprised to get such a lovely letter back from Jamie’s team with a signed photo, which Peter recognised straight away.
“Unfortunately, we still haven’t found a copy of the advert and we’re waiting to hear back from Sainsbury’s to see if it’s something they can help with.
“The letter and photo from Jamie has definitely made the search worthwhile though.”