Fruity feat to raise cash for furloughed staff

Stifling humidity and temperatures forecast to top 30 degrees Celsius are not enough to deter one big-hearted restaurateur from running 10km of Antigua’s west coast – dressed as a giant pineapple. Alex Grimley will don the padded suit on Saturday for the sponsored event to raise cash for furloughed staff. Organisers of the madcap Antigua Pineapple 10K Solo Run hope to encourage other business owners to follow suit and step up to the challenge.
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By Gemma Handy

One fun-loving restaurateur will be putting his best foot forward for charity this Saturday when he runs 10km along Antigua’s west coast – dressed as a pineapple.

Alex Grimley hopes to raise cash for care packages for furloughed staff at his two restaurants, Sheer Rocks and Catherine’s Café.

The kooky jaunt will set off – appropriately enough – from the Pineapple Farm at Cade’s Bay, taking in Fryes Beach, before hitting the road to Jolly Harbour and finishing on Harbour Island.

Grimley will run the entire stretch in the luminous padded suit, with temperatures on the day set to top a scorching 30 degrees Celsius.

The inaugural Antigua Pineapple 10K Solo Run was conceptualised by local marketing expert Jackie Ashford, of She is encouraging other business owners to follow suit to raise money to help workers who have lost income due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The costume is in tribute to the beloved national fruit, she said, while pineapples are packed with nutrients to build the immune system and stay healthy.

The idea was born when Ashford spotted fitness enthusiast Grimley out jogging.

“Alex had also just put out a GoFundMe page to raise funds to feed his team. This got me thinking; what if I challenged him, and other business leaders, to do a sponsored run dressed as a giant pineapple and have the funds raised go towards care packages for their furloughed teams?” Ashford wrote on a Facebook page dedicated to the event.

“So, I challenged Alex publicly on Facebook and, to my astonishment, he said yes.”

Ashford’s social media shout-out bore fruit of another kind too. Talented local seamstress Rachel Wood stepped forward to offer her services creating the all-important costume.

“I love to just do something a little different to covering cushions and you can’t make a padded yellow ball wrong,” Wood smiled. “I’m happy to do something fun to help raise some funds,” she told Observer.

Meanwhile, Grimley may be no stranger to exercise but a long distance run in quilted garb in tropical temperatures is definitely a first, he said.

The forced closure of the Rocks Group’s two restaurants, offshoot shop and events company in March put 70 people out of work. A previous fundraiser by the company raised more than $40,000 for food for them.

“This is another step to raise more funds,” Grimley added.

A GoFundMe page where supporters can donate has already raised more than a third of the £1,500 (EC$5,000) target.

In keeping with social distancing rules, people will be able to watch the entire run on Facebook Live via the event page ‘First Antigua Pineapple 10k Solo Run’.

Ashford urged the public to donate via the link found on the page. Anyone wishing to nominate themselves – or someone else – to run subsequent editions of the challenge can get in touch on the page too.

“With your help, we’ll be able to provide people with really valuable care packages here in Antigua,” she added.

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