Two Yorkshire Housing customers, Carol Mercer and Carys Roberts, have won the BBC Cook of the Year Award for the BBC Food & Farming Awards Finals 2019.
In 2016 the two intrepid former nurses decided to set up a lunch club called Neville’s Kitchen at the Community Centre in Gargrave, to help elderly Yorkshire Housing residents who were not eating well and were socially isolated.
Neville’s Kitchen provides home-cooked meals and even delivers them to residents who are unable to get out and about. They initially promoted their luncheon club by word of mouth and dropped leaflets to various places in the local area.
The club is a now popular fixture of the community with up to 22 people attending at a time. Everyone over 50 is welcome and it is open to volunteers and different support groups.
Carys Roberts, shortlisted nominee said: “We are so proud to have won the BBC Cooks of the Year Award, it came completely out of the blue, so it’s nice to be recognised for something we really love. We love cooking good English food like roast beef, chicken and potatoes, everything your mum used to make.”
Carol Mercer, shortlisted nominee said: “It’s great to have won for our cooking at Neville’s Kitchen. We have a lovely relaxed atmosphere here, it isn’t only about lunch because people stay and play card games. It is so lovely to see it because you feel like you have done something good.”
James Haigh, community investment manager at Yorkshire Housing said: “Carol and Carys cook great food and have done so much good work at Neville’s Kitchen to support the community in Gargrave. They really deserved to win”
Carol and Carys also said they couldn’t do Neville’s Kitchen without the help of Sylvia Pickles, Caroline Leiper and Jennifer Heselton, who give their time to make sure the luncheon club stays afloat. The BBC Food & Farming Awards were launched in 2000, to mark the 20th anniversary of Radio 4’s The Food Programme. The mission statement for the programme is “to honour those who have done most to promote the cause of good food.”
The winners were revealed at the Food & Farming Awards ceremony in Bristol on 12th June. The inaugural event was held in St James’s Palace (with the support of HRH, The Prince of Wales) with Stephen Fry acting as host.