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Strings and Tasty Things help raise cash for cancer charity

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Yann and Youenn Pugi at the PALS Thrift Shop where they volunteer once a week (Photograph by Nolwenn Pugi)

Yann Pugi likes to “mess around in the kitchen”.

His brother Youenn loves music and drama.

In 2019 they combined their passions and formed Strings and Tasty Things. Since January, the brothers have been at PALS thrift shop on Point Finger Road every Saturday – Yann hands out homemade treats while Youenn plays his violin with a bucket at their feet.

Any donations are then handed over to the cancer charity; so far they have given $500.

“It feels amazing to have raised that much money,” Youenn said. “I was really surprised that we had raised that much, to be honest, but I am proud that we have and we look forward to raising more for PALS.”

The boys started Strings and Tasty Things when Yann, 16, needed credits for the Duke of Edinburgh programme, an award scheme for young people that involves community service, hiking and self-improvement.

Youenn, 14, wanted to help his brother. At first they were a little unsure of what they could do. Then they settled on using their talents to volunteer for PALS, Tomorrow's Voices, Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy, Westmeath Residential & Nursing Home, WindReach, SPCA and Grateful Bread.

When the pandemic forced a few breaks they decided it would be better to focus on one charity. The brothers chose PALS because several of their family members have battled cancer.

They are usually at the thrift store for an hour, starting at around 12pm.

“It felt awkward to be standing there,” Yann said of their first visits to PALS. “Now, I say ‘Hello’ and ‘How are you?’ I am a lot more comfortable talking to people.”

Yann Pugi baking treats for PALS (Photograph by Nolwenn Pugi)

Similarly, Youenn was not accustomed to playing in front of an audience.

“Practising in your room by yourself is not the same as playing in front of people,” the Bermuda School of Music student said. “When I started I did not play to my greatest ability. Still to this day, the first couple of songs I play when I am there are usually squeaky and uncomfortable. Once I get into it I get better. Playing at PALS has really helped me to improve my performance skills.”

He believes it helped him pass his Grade Three violin examinations with distinction this month.

Meanwhile people gobble up the “20 to 30” rice crispy treats, brownies or cookies that Yann makes.

He learnt how to bake through a food and nutrition course at Warwick Academy.

“You do it through years 7 to 9,” he said. “You do it for one term and then switch to art and design technology.”

The teenager then took a food and nutrition IGCSE course. Although he wanted to be a chef when he was younger, he is now considering going into the restaurant industry as a business owner.

Baking for PALS has helped improve his baking skills.

“There are regimented steps and I really don’t have to think about it anymore,” he said. “It is almost muscle memory or second nature.”

The boys are busy outside the work they do with Strings and Tasty Things. Youenn also plays field hockey and takes part in a drama club.

Youenn Pugi practising the violin (Photograph by Nolwenn Pugi)

Yann plays with the Bermuda Volleyball Association two to three times a week and also takes CrossFit classes once a week.

Youenn, following in his brother’s footsteps, recently completed requirements for the Duke of Edinburgh bronze programme.

“It is a good idea because the kids get more engagement in the community,” Yann said of the award scheme. “It gets them out of their comfort zone. Otherwise, some kids might just stay at home or just do what they are used to. By going out into the community they get to meet new people and they can learn to persevere.”

Youenn agreed that some students might find it a bit of a burden, but it definitely helps.

“You get out into the community,” he said. “You are having a positive impact.

“Our volunteering clearly makes other people's days while we also enjoy volunteering.”

With social distancing restrictions loosened the boys are now debating whether to go back to helping charities other than PALS.

“There are still restrictions and we want to make sure everyone stays safe,” Yann said.

He believes Strings and Tasty Things has been good for his relationship with his brothers.

“We were always close,” he said. “I believe it brought us even closer as it has taught us coordination, organisation and improved our teamwork which are very important skills in life and as brothers.”

For more information: stringsandtastythings@gmail.com

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Published May 31, 2022 at 7:57 am (Updated June 01, 2022 at 8:02 am)

Strings and Tasty Things help raise cash for cancer charity

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