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Velindre Cookbook up for Gourmand World Cookbook Award

A charity cookbook that charts the very personal journeys of cancer patients and their families in south east Wales, through their love of food, has been selected to represent Wales in the prestigious Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

Considered as the Oscars of the cookbook world, the Velindre Cookbook scooped the award for the best cookbook in Wales in the category of Family and Fundraising.  The book will now represent Wales in the ‘Best in the World’ event held in Macau, China on 3 July 2019. 

The book was the brainchild of Ceri Harris from Velindre University NHS Trust who has worked tirelessly over the past 12 months to see it published – recruiting contributions from some of Wales’ finest chefs along the way, including an introduction by Welsh actor Michael Sheen.

Commenting, Ceri said: “This really has been a labor of love, bordering on the obsessive at times but the motivation behind the book was quite simple really – to tell a story about a community of patients receiving treatment at Velindre Cancer Centre and how the simple pleasure of food made a difference to the quality of their lives during a very difficult time.

“Food can often evoke fond and powerful memories of family get-togethers and old recipes passed from one generation to the next. Traditionally and to this day, food still has that wonderful ability of being able to bring people together.  The Velindre Cookbook is very much a collection of the intimate memories and shared recipes of our patients. Our aim is to sell 1,000 copies of the book by Christmas and raise as much money as we can to help in the fight against cancer.

“Some people will be familiar with some of the more common side-effects of cancer treatments such as Chemotherapy but less publicised perhaps is how these treatments can affect the taste buds of patients undergoing treatment. Angharad Underwood’s story perfectly illustrates this.  One of her worst experiences, whilst undergoing treatment for breast cancer, was losing her taste buds. But to her surprise, she could still taste blackcurrant jam. So she set about concocting recipes that had blackcurrant jam in just about everything.  I know that being able to savour and enjoy her food made a big difference to Angharad and offered her some respite during her time with us at Velindre. But the story doesn’t end there. She was also the owner of a company that specialises in Jam and Preserves so she decided to donate a proportion of the sales of her blackcurrant jam to help Velindre’s fundraising efforts. This is one of many wonderful stories and recipes contained in the book.”

Ceri added: “Obviously I’m delighted that the Velindre Cookbook will represent Wales at such a prestigious award ceremony which probably reflects the collective efforts of our patients in sharing their personal stories with us.  And if the profile of this event helps us raise more money to help in the fight against cancer, all the better.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said: “The power of food can never be underestimated, especially when someone is facing a difficult time in their life. Good food brings people together, it is comforting, restorative and people love to talk about it, as well as eat it. Many congratulations to Ceri and everyone who contributed their stories and recipes. It is wonderful news this fantastic book is getting the recognition it truly deserves. I wish them the best of luck in Macau.”

Commenting Donna Mead, Chair of Velindre University NHS Trust said: “Congratulations to everyone who has been involved in producing the Velindre Cookbook on being named as the Winner for Wales in the Gourmand World Cookbooks Awards. This is testimony to the superb cooperation of the Velindre family - including patients, families, staff, chefs and all our supporters. The cookbook has already had a positive effect for our families who have benefited from talking about the recipes, shared in their preparation, and enjoyed eating the dishes. The cookbook has quite literally been a mechanism of opening up conversations in families in which one member is experiencing their cancer journey.”

For further information on the Velindre Cookbook visit:

 https://www.etsy.com/shop/VelindreCookbook

For a list of independent venues where the book is on sale email: Velindre.cookbook@wales.nhs.uk

Source: Velindre Cancer Centre