Self portrait for Masterchef contestant mum opens doors

Jules Allen with adopted daughter India, 17.
Jules Allen with adopted daughter India, 17.

ONE of Lennox Masterchef finalist Jules Allen's adopted children will be the youth ambassador for National Adoption Week, which runs from November 10-17.

Jules adopted India Grant when she was 13, after the death of India's mother. India's father had died from cancer when she was just six and Jules was working as a school counsellor with India when her mother died.

Jules Allen named ambassador for Community Sector Awards

SELF-PORTRAIT: India’s drawing of herself as a child.
SELF-PORTRAIT: India’s drawing of herself as a child.

"When I went on MasterChef, I didn't have a picture of her as a baby ... so she said she would draw me one and she drew the most stunning picture I have ever seen," Jules said.

The sponsor of the art competition, L'Oreal, asked if they could use the image on one of their moisturisers and Kiehl's India limited edition is on the shelves with India's self-portrait on the lid.

Some of the proceeds of sales will go towards an adoption awareness campaign.

India was then invited to be the ambassador for National Adoption Week, along with Hugh Jackman's wife Debbie.

The couple have two adopted children.

India will spend a week in Sydney doing media interviews and telling her story at a charity lunch.

"She is rapt," Jules said. "She told me it makes her experience worthwhile... She's had such a hard journey, this adds light to something that has been really dark."

India can't quite comprehend how she feels about it.

"It's such a privilege to have my art associated with something that's so... personal to me... I'm really nervous to tell my story, but it's exciting, challenging, new and scary at the same time."

Community sector awards

JULES Allen will be the ambassador for the 2013 Northern Rivers Community Sector Awards, to be held in Lismore on November 9.

Before her 15 minutes of fame as a celebrity chef, Ms Allen worked in child protection and as a school counsellor.

She also looked after 29 foster children over a 15-year period.

"When I was working in the child protection field, I really saw the need (for foster carers)," she said.

"I was a single mum with a two-year-old son at the time and was in a position where I could do it. I'd always wanted lots of kids and wasn't in a position to have more and I saw the need and it just rolled from there."

Ms Allen, who lives at Lennox Head, said she was honoured to be asked to be the ambassador for the Community Sector Awards.

"For me the foundation of society comes down to the volunteers and people who do things without an expectation of anything in return. It's the ultimate idea of service and the foundation of a good community," she said.

"To acknowledge the people who do that is a real honour for me and I can't support it enough. I think communities start to break down when that sense of service is not there. It comes back to that old saying 'it takes a village to raise a child' and I really think that is so true."

Putting on her chef's hat, Jules said food was an important part of caring for kids.

"Food is an important connection between people and I spoil my kids rotten."

Topics:  adoption art editors picks masterchef

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