Kellie Rixon, the managing director of the De Vere Academy of Hospitality, which closed in the summer, is opening a restaurant in Sandbach, Cheshire, tomorrow (Wednesday). The 100-seat Folks restaurant will serve British comfort food with a strong focus on pies and sharing dishes.
Folks has come about following an accident Rixon and her two sons were involved in last December, when the car she was driving in Northumbria was knocked off the road onto a railway track by a hit and run driver. The car was hit by a train and her youngest son, Harry, now 12, suffered life-threatening injuries.
"We still have a long way to go, but Harry has just started to walk and talk again," said Rixon. "I'm now applying all the energies I put into the academy into working on rehabilitation with my son every day."
"During the eight months my son was in hospital, we came to really appreciate all the lovely gifts of food people brought to us. It brought us comfort and joy to all of us and I am applying the same ethos to the new restaurant.
"I can no longer do the high powered job that I was doing with De Vere and all the travel it involved around the country, but I wanted to be able to continue doing something within hospitality. Opening a restaurant in my home town of Sandbach reflecting all the family values that are so important seemed the right thing to do."
The De Vere Academy of Hospitality closed due to the adverse financial implications of the change in financial support from central government. Originally launched in 2010 at a cost of £1m - with backing from the National Apprenticeship Service, local councils and corporate sponsors - the academy went on to open 12 centres across the UK.
As well as being managing director of the De Vere Academy, Rixon was also group brand development director of the De Vere Group. She was awarded an MBE for services to the hospitality industry in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2012.