Roger Harris, a longtime resident of the BVI and supporter of VISAR, has been making and selling marmalade for a number of years to support VISAR’s mission to save lives at sea. We sat down with Roger to re-cap how he got started with making marmalade and why it’s so important to him to support VISAR through his delicious homemade treat.
Q: How and why did you begin supporting VISAR?
Harris: It goes back to 1961, when a work colleague of my late wife Ann’s father who worked at the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank in London, died and left a trust fund to Ann and two other people. The residual legatee for the trust was the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. As a result, my wife enjoyed the income from the trust for many years and eventually the other two legatee died, leaving my wife with all the income. The RNLI are very hard-nosed when it comes to finance and donations, contributions, etc. and they offered to buy my wife out of the trust. After many negotiations we agreed to a figure and the trust was closed with the RNLI receiving the funds. As it turned out, unfortunately for the RNLI, my wife died a few months after the settlement. Had they waited a few more months they would have received all of the proceeds from the trust. After this, I in effect became the beneficiary of their largess. Ann and I came to the BVI in 1972; at this time VISAR did not exist but after it came into being in 1988 we were keen to support it considering my wife’s connection with the RNLI. Inspired by the way VISAR worked and operated in the BVI, we decided to make a generous financial contribution to the organisation, the first of several that followed from us. Ann had started making marmalade when we moved to the BVI, giving the proceeds to various charities, and she started giving proceeds to VISAR in addition to our financial contributions. After she died I needed another hobby and decided to try my hand at marmalade as well. I have ended up making far more marmalade that she ever did and have always given the proceeds to charities, one of which is VISAR.
Q: What is special about your marmalade?
Harris: The recipe! The recipe is my late wife’s grandmother’s, made with Seville oranges which are available in the U.K. These oranges are very sharp and ideal for pure orange marmalade. Since Seville oranges are not available in the BVI, in order to get the tartness the recipe was modified to include grapefruits and lemons. So it is known as Three Fruit Marmalade, using grapefruits, oranges and lemons. If you want to know the basic recipe it is: 2 grapefruits, 5 oranges and 5 lemons or limes, sugar and pectin. Cut the fruit in half, juice it, and save the juice, pips and skin. Boil up the skins for an hour in water to cover. Slice the skins thinly (or thicker if desired) then add back the juice to the skins and the water they were boiled in. Then measure out the mixture and for each pint of mixture add one pound of sugar. Boil it up with a sachet of pectin until it reaches setting point (about 225 degrees F) and then decant it into jars that have been washed and sterilized. That’s it! No additives or preservatives, just fresh fruit and some sugar. It takes about 6 hours to make a batch of 20 jars.
Q: How do people get your marmalade?
Harris: They can come to VISAR Base on Monday night and purchase it there or they can call me. I also take it to the Ladies Club meetings, the Bridge Club and other private customers. It is a great way to eat something local and also support the great charities at work in the BVI. Try it with cheddar cheese or on ice cream!
At the end of our interview with Roger he said, “As far as VISAR, I will continue to support the organization as the cost of operations continues to increase and the ability to fundraise has more challenges. Every little bit helps.”
Thank you Roger for your unfailing support of VISAR’s mission to save lives at sea. We sincerely appreciate your support!