Heaven sent: volunteers help men step up to the plate after tragedy

LOSING a loving partner is a devastating experience, but a group of Orange men say their lives have been touched by the kindness of staff at Orange hospital.

Palliative care staff, social workers and doctors have given up their time to give the men a new lease of life by teaching  them to cook.

The program is the brainchild of palliative care clinical nurse specialist Louise Hoffman, who made contact with the men during their wives’ care.

“I had the cooking lessons idea a few years ago, and recently we were in a position to be able to put it in place with the help of our social worker Helen Hodgkins and other staff,” she said.

“It has been so lovely to see the members of the group with a smile on their face, and sharing each other’s company and experiences.”

Kevin Collyer said he was not adept at cooking before he started the program.

“I could boil an egg, but I think even I was capable of burning the water,” he said.

Les Wright said a phone call from hospital palliative care staff to ask if he wanted to be involved in the program was perfect timing.

“It came at the toughest time after our wives passed away,” he said.

Mr Collyer said hospital staff giving up their own time has made a big impression on him.

“These girls have busy lives themselves, but they didn’t just turn out the light and go home - they were thinking of us,” he said.

Mr Wright said like most men his age he knew how to grill a chop and cook a few vegies.

“When my wife was really ill she started guiding me through some basic steps and taught me to make her favourite fruit cake, but after she was gone the program picked up from there.

“I’ve learned to make a zucchini slice which is one of my favourites,” he said.

Mr Collyer said any man who finds himself in a similar position should become involved to learn new skills and make new friends.

“I was reluctant at first but we have such a good laugh - just go ahead and do it,” he said.

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