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Service personnel show off new skills to cook up a storm

13 April 2016
An opportunity to learn new skills from an expert has allowed a group of Service personnel recovering from wounds, injury and sickness to create a mouth-watering three course lunch.

The group of budding chefs, who are currently under the care of Naval Service Recovery Centre (NSRC) Hasler, based in HMS Drake, have been taking part in an eight-week cookery course at the Defence Maritime Logistics School (DMLS) within HMS Raleigh.  

The course has been delivered by a former Royal Navy Warrant Officer (Chef) Rod Naylor, who worked at the DMLS as the Senior Craft Training provider.

The three course lunch is the finale to the training, which is part of a tailored recovery programme known as ‘Project Cope’.  Rear Admiral Simon Williams, the Naval Secretary, was the guest of honour.  

Other diners included staff from the DMLS, the NSRC, 42 Commando Royal Marines, the Royal Naval Benevolent Trust and Mr Paul Easterbrooke of the company Robo Coupe. 

The menu comprised creamed carrot and smoked bacon timbale to start; honey glazed roast pork fillet served on a bed of sliced new potatoes with a pear and black pudding jus for the main course; and macerated strawberries served with fromage frais, rose meringues and strawberry leather to finish.

I’ve been in NSRC Hasler since September 2015 and it’s been great getting the opportunity to learn new skills, do things like this and also be with other people that are going through similar issues.

Corporal Ian McCormack

Writer (Wtr) Hannu Kanji is recovering from a neck injury and hopes to return to his normal duties later this year.  He was involved with the preparation of the starter.

Wtr Kanji said: “The re-hab side of being in the recovery centre has definitely helped me and the activities on offer have kept my mind occupied. It’s been something different to my every day job working in an office.  

"I couldn’t cook before, It’s been really interesting”

Corporal Ian McCormack is suffering from Reiter’s Syndrome, also known as reactive arthritis brought on by a bout of salmonella. He said: “A year and a half ago I couldn’t walk or use my left hand.

"Through re-hab and medication I’m slowing getting back on my feet, but whether I’ll be fit enough to carry on in the Service I don’t know.

"I’ve been in NSRC Hasler since September 2015 and it’s been great getting the opportunity to learn new skills, do things like this and also be with other people that are going through similar issues.  

"It’s been a massive help to me. I’d done a bit of cookery before, but not to this level.

"The terminology of cooking I didn’t have a clue about although I understand some of it now.

"It’s been a bit of escapism, you forget about all the other things going on in your life and the fact that your career is possibly over.

"You focus on the task in hand and switch off for a couple of hours, I find it therapeutic.

"I’ve learnt that I can make stuff for myself, rather than buying jars, I can now make curries and when you make things from scratch it tastes so much better.  

"It gives me a bit of pride to be honest.”

The training initiative is known as Project Cope and is named after Catering Assistant Daryl Cope who lost his life in the Falklands conflict. It was introduced in 2013 to teach those taking part an essential life skill while also helping to improve self-esteem and confidence.

Rear Admiral Williams said: “I’ve had an absolutely fantastic meal.

"It was just extraordinary to see what these people have been able to do in such a short period of time.

"Rehabilitation is a difficult thing to get through, this course is a just a great opportunity for them to get hands on, get out of the centre and come across to the DMLS to work under Rod’s fantastic guidance.

"It’s given them something to think about and they’ve achieved a fantastic standard.”

NSRC Hasler is dedicated to the specific and more complex needs of wounded, injured and sick personnel and continues to evolve post Operation Herrick in Afghanistan, looking after individuals from across all three Services.  

The DMLS is responsible for training chefs for the Naval Service, including Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Fleet Auxiliary staff, along with a range of other training in logistics specialisations.  

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