Students take time out for tea

Students from Thetford Academy learn about the hotel business from hotelier Gez Chetal at his busin

Students from Thetford Academy learn about the hotel business from hotelier Gez Chetal at his business the Thomas Paine hotel in Thetford.Carol long, Emma hassey, Addison malkinson, jarra bardsley and Beverley Andrew.Picture by: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Teenagers studying for their catering GCSEs were given a crash course in the importance of afternoon tea and the significance of local hero Thomas Paine on a trip out of the classroom.

More than 30 teenagers from Thetford Academy visited the Thomas Paine Hotel in White Hart Street in the town for the lessons.

The hotel's owner Gez Chetal talked to the pupils about the origins of afternoon tea before taking them on a tour of the hotel and the hotel's Thomas Paine exhibition.

He said: 'These children will be going on to do GCSEs in catering and I wanted to give them more of a real life experience to help them in the future. A lot of people don't know much about afternoon tea and many children, let alone adults, probably know nothing about Thomas Paine, who is a local hero.'

Carol Long, a teacher at Thetford Academy, said: 'The children have to do a project on afternoon tea for their GCSE catering coursework. They are so excited to be here. They can learn about it from a real life context.'


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Emma Haffey, 13, Jarra Bardsley, 15, and Addison Malkinson, 13, were among the students enjoying the chance to get out of the classroom.

Jarra said she knew a little about Thomas Paine but none of them knew much about afternoon tea, which was originally the brainchild of the Duchess of Bedford who was lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria.

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She thought there was an intolerable length of time between luncheon and evening dinner and decided that it would be enjoyable to take some refreshment halfway between the two, so she arranged for tea to be brewed and for the kitchens to design sweet and savoury snacks. The habit soon caught on and before long this very English interlude was being enjoyed by all.

Thomas Paine, who wrote two influential pamphlets at the start of the American War of Independence, was born in 1737 about 100metres from the hotel. He died in New York in 1809.

Have you got at Thetford story? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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