On January 18, the Rowans Hospice’s third cookery course for the bereaved will start. The eight-week course, taught at Havant and South Downs College and supported by Kenwood through a grant from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation, provides an opportunity for the bereaved to learn new skills and recipes.
This course provides an excellent example of the ethos of our local hospice, which is to support patients of life-limiting illnesses their families and carers, from diagnosis into bereavement.
The comments shared by participants and chef Laura Skye, from the previous course, reflect how beneficial it is, beyond simply learning how to cook smaller meals for themselves and teaching them new techniques.
Elise Hockaday said: ‘It has been wonderful. When I was first asked by Lesley-Ann, I immediately said yes. When I mentioned it to my friends, they said ‘’you don’t need to go on a cookery course Elise, you’re a good cook!’’
‘However, I wanted to, as I knew it would give me the opportunity to meet up with people who were in the same place as me. It has been very difficult since losing John. At our first meeting we were all strangers, but now after spending the last eight Fridays together with lots of fun and banter in the kitchen, we are all good friends and plan to meet up at least once a month.
‘I know we all felt very grateful to Kenwood and the Rowans Hospice for giving us this wonderful opportunity to move on a little with our lives. I certainly learnt some very interesting tips from our lovely chef Laura.’
Rita Wright: ‘It has been absolutely fantastic. We started off with soup, then we did risotto, quiche, then roulade, beef bourguignon, curry, and then apple pie. I haven’t eaten my apple pie as I put it in the freezer to share with my study group.
‘As far as cooking is concerned my husband was my carer for 14 years and he wouldn’t let me do a thing. He said to me ‘’this isn’t fair.’’ I said ‘’what isn’t fair?’’ And he said ‘’I shouldn’t be going before you.’’
‘He was so upset that he was leaving me to care for myself. But now, coming here has meant more than cooking, it has meant caring for myself. It has brought me back to life and given me a real interest again.’
Roger Wilkinson commented: “Since 1955 I’ve been wanting to know how to make Manchester Tart properly. I asked Laura if she could get me the recipe and I have made it today. I’m just hoping they taste as good as I remember them.
‘I can’t thank Rowans, Kenwood, the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation and Laura - she has been unbelievable - enough. The course has been great.’
Lecturer and college chef Laura Skye said: ‘Teaching this course is fantastic. The group had a range of cooking abilities, so my aim was to ensure that everyone progressed and learnt new skills.
‘This group gelled straight way and we all had a real laugh together. Tears have also been shed over the weeks, as certain recipes or conversation brought back particular memories to them.
‘The wonderful thing is this group provides a safe place to share memories. Everyone is in the same place, so they can relate to and
comfort each other. From doing this course real friendships have developed.”
Lesley -Ann, deputy manager at the Rowans Living Well Centre, is part of the team that developed and now runs the course.
She said: ‘It is great to hear how much the group have enjoyed and benefited from taking part in the cookery course.’
Lesley-Ann added: ‘Working within Rowans, if we see a need we are encouraged to actively find a way to meet it. However, I really appreciate that our ideas can only become a reality thanks to the unfailing support of our local community.
‘So thank you to the local community, the college, and Kenwood for applying to Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation for the grant.
‘All of these people help us to be there for patients, their families and carers, wherever they are on their journey.’