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Two chefs win #Cash4Life

Published:Monday | February 29, 2016 | 12:00 AMDaviot Kelly
Michael Birmingham
Christine Wray

Both are from humble circumstances and both are involved in the food preparation business. One currently calls the verdant hills above Gordon Town home, while the other lives in the heart of west St Andrew.

But Michael Birmingham and Christine Wray have at least one more thing in common: they are each the lucky recipients of $1 million each year for the next 10 years, courtesy of the J. Wray and Nephew Limited's 'Q is the Key to #Cash4Life' promotion, led by Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum, Charley's JB Overproof Rum and Appleton Special. Popular comedian/emcee 'Boasy Boy' Floyd, J Wray and Nephew Limited's marketing manager for white spirits, Pietro Gramegna, and the #Cash4Life promotion team bestowed the fantastic prizes in somewhat contrasting presentations in the two home communities.

High above Gordon Town, and with the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) camp at Newcastle standing imposingly in the background, a stunned Michael Birmingham stoically received the life-changing news.

The chef, who cooks meals for JDF personnel at both Up Park Camp and Newcastle, was earnestly preparing to head off to work when the team arrived. His brother, the only family member present (his mother had already gone ahead to assume her own duties as a factory worker), was far more exuberant, and his antics alerted other residents to the developments.

Afterwards, a still cool and collected Birmingham explained that while he was happy for the win, he was, as a product of the inner city (originally from the troubled Mud Town community), accustomed to taking life?s vagaries in stride.


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"All our life we work hard, we come from nothing and we take our time and go through, so this is not for us to get too excited," he said. He added that, as an avid reader, and particularly of self-help/ motivational texts such as The Secret, he was aware of the value of maintaining a positive yet balanced outlook. Considering how the windfall would be put to use, Birmingham was typically conservative.

"Where we live now is not our place, so the priority is to get a place of our own, and then we see how else we can invest it."

The backdrop may have seemed less salubrious in the community of New Haven, but the welcome was no less genuine and the community was truly happy to celebrate with winner Christine Wray. She has cooked in various restaurants and cookshops over the past nine years, and was trembling with elation and appreciation when the promotion team came her way.

"I try very hard and it didn't seem like I was going to win anything, now I'm so happy," she said, amid loud cheers from community members.

"I'm really, really grateful to J. Wray and Nephew Ltd, this is really changing our life for the better." Like Birmingham, Wray will put at least a portion of her payout towards securing a new home. Beyond that, she's already nurturing an even bigger dream.

"I've been learning to do different type of dishes, and I really want to start my own restaurant," she says. Thanks to J. Wray and Nephew and their Cash4Life promotion, she's already a few steps along to "opening day".

"It's really heartening to see that we have two very deserving winners," Gramegna noted. "We're glad to be able to affect people's lives positively in the same manner which our brands, Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum, Appleton Special and Charley's JB Overproof Rum, bring people together."

Speaking about the overall promotion, Gary Dixon, marketing director of J Wray and Nephew Limited, said the company was very excited to have been giving away terrific grand prizes and instant prizes to persons who support the brands.