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Christian chef Jemma's recipe for joy this Christmas

CARING FOR OTHERS: Jemma Regis did not look forward to Christmas after her mother died, so decided to volunteer her time and her skills to help others in need

IN MOST people's minds, the image of Christmas is of a family, around a table, enjoying a sumptuous meal, lovingly enjoying each other’s company. However, this is not everyone’s reality.

Some have no family, others are estranged from their relative and then there are others who lack the resources, skills or strength to cook a Christmas meal, hence the initiative started by trained chef, cake maker/ decorator and author Jemma Regis is so welcome.

INSPIRED

It was in 2016 that Jemma, a Christian of 30+ years, felt inspired to cook meal hampers for families and individuals which are delivered to their homes for them to enjoy on Christmas Day.

Recipients are nominated by the general public as well as schools and social services. And uniquely, due to her professional training, Jemma’s tailor makes hampers to each recipient’s needs.

Jemma’s started this initiative to help her overcome depression and also promote the mental well-being of hamper recipients.

She shared: “After my mum’s death when I was 17, Christmas became something I did not look forward to. Prior to that I loved Christmas. My mum made Christmas special but after her death it just wasn’t the same. So I would work on Christmas Day, I would find people to volunteer my services to or I would stay at home on my own and the last thing I wanted to do was cook.

“However, a couple of years ago I thought I it would be good to use my skills as a chef to good use and make Christmas dinners for people who might not be able to cook a Christmas meal for themselves.”

Using her own money, Jemma went to the shops bought the necessary food items and cooked up a storm. During that first year Jemma made hampers for 17 families and individuals – which equated to approximately 60 meals. Last year she fed 29 families and individuals. This year she expects to feed 140 people. She has touching testimonies from people who have received one of her cooked hampers. “One year I cooked a last meal for a couple who were both suffering from cancer. They both knew it would be their last meal together and were really grateful. I also received a thank you letter from a young man who was spending Christmas on his own because his mother decided to go to Nigeria.

“He wrote, ‘When you brought the hamper I was so surprised it was loaded. I entered heaven as I enjoyed the beautiful food. The most interesting thing is that I felt alone over Christmas but I did not feel sad. I was glad to be alone as I was able to enjoy the delightful food’.”

Jemma has launched a campaign to help fund her efforts this year, and she is in the process of registering her initiative as a charity called Alone Behind Closed Doors (ABCD). It will continue to provide Christmas meals, but also food vouchers for those living in poverty, and help for those needing something fixed in their homes. And if anything can be learnt from Jemma’s initiative it is that pain can be transformed into positive energy to help others.

For more information connect with Jemma Regis on Facebook.

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