06 October 2022

KickStart Breakfast on the (West) Coast - Blaketown School


For South Islanders, when you mention ‘The Coast’, there are two things that immediately come to mind – legendary weather and legendary welcomes.

I was fortunate to be able to spend some time on the West Coast earlier in the year and nothing about the Coast disappointed – the weather and the welcomes were epic!

One of those warm welcomes was from Ailene Billett and her team at Blaketown School, nestled on the edge of the Tasman Sea in Greymouth. The school has a current roll of 90-100, and anticipates about 20 or so young people cruising in for breakfast. The school joined KickStart Breakfast in 2021 and are able to utilise a space that has been designed as half library and half kitchen, giving an area that is welcoming, flexible and well equipped.

Blaketown 2

As Ailene is the coordinator she is on deck early and is joined by two of the school’s senior pupils who are rostered to assist today. Ailene believes in letting the seniors work to their strengths and so they take the lead in getting everything set up. Ailene mentioned to me quietly that she felt the seniors were more serious about table manners and etiquette than she was, and sure enough, as pupils starting rolling and bouncing in, the senior pupils guided and directed everyone.

Part of what Ailene wants to pass on to her pupils is ‘how to be at the table’. She also aims to have the seniors so well versed in how breakfast runs that if ever she can’t be present, breakfast still happens.

Blaketown 1

Tuesdays are baking days, where the seniors stay on after breakfast and get creative. All their recipes must include milk and Weet-Bix, and their results are then available for everyone to share. There are a lot of life skills being shared in this caring community and I wish to thank Ailene and her team for letting me join them for the morning.

On my way out the gate I bumped into the school’s principal, Christine Smith. She was rugged up and doing that classic ‘good morning’ welcome to everyone who was coming and going from the school grounds as the day gets under way. She is very positive about her school, her community and KickStart Breakfast.

It’s great to have you guys on board.

- Ross Hamilton (KickStart Breakfast Relationship Manager, South Island)