So this is our story, our foundation and where it all began. Gerry lived on a farm in Selous and I lived in the town of Chegutu. We both attended Bryden Country School from 1992 – 1999. We use to date in 1998 (Grade 6). Can you believe this? We’d exchange love notes in each other’s desk only to share them with each other years later at a reunion in 2008 here in the UK.
Our first headmaster at Bryden was Mr Browse followed by Mr Pettipher. From here, Gerry went on to Eaglesvale High School as well as ACE homeschooling and I went to Heritage School followed by the Convent. From memory, I won ‘Top Gun’ in Grade 6 for Shona and Gerry broke some sports records which included high jump. Our favourite teacher was Mr McCormack aka Corky (Grade 6). Gerry was a border and I was a day scholar, we were both in Mafuti house. Our fondest memories of the school were the school trips. We still talk about them today. We had the absolute pleasure of visiting and exploring Masango, Chimanimani, Kariba, Victoria Falls and even Great Zimbabwe.
I left Zimbabwe in 2002 and was later reunited with Gerry in later years thanks to the incredible power of social media. We married a year later and the rest as they say is now history.
Gerry’s love for all things biltong, carpentry and Africa were combined to form Billies & Tong in 2014. The business has gone from strength to strength over the years. Our products include biltong makers (for domestic and commercial use), spice, chopping boards/cutting equipment and even biltong itself. Gerry has supplied many a company in the industry both in the UK and Europe commercial dryers which in turn has helped them sell biltong on a larger scale.
I joined Billies & Tong in January this year, followed by my brother Richard in March. Richard also attended Bryden (1987 – 1994) and was house captain for Mafuti. He also runs his own successful carpentry business here in Somerset. Gerry and I have been looking over the years for a charity we could contribute to and after chatting to a fellow Bryden School student Sean Ervine who played cricket for Zimbabwe, we discovered Eden Ministries in Doma, Zimbabwe. Sean’s parents work for this fantastic non-profit organisation. In June this year, we made our very first contribution to the orphanage and will continue donating £1 for every biltong and droewors we sell here in the UK.
Billies & Tong is powered by complete drive and passion. It is hugely important for all of us to keep family traditions as well as our African heritage alive. We are unbelievably grateful to say we’ve had the most amazing childhood and upbringing in Africa and Bryden played a massive part in this. We remember we were the very first students to try the first computers installed at the school. We were taught how to use paint initially, isn’t this amazing?
We all have the fondest memories of Bryden. From sports days to plays and even our trips away, we will forever be grateful for having the best stepping stone possible. Bryden was the perfect foundation for us and we wouldn’t have it any other way.