23rd December is a strange day for my family. As the Christmas build-up reaches fever pitch, the madness suddenly melts away for a moment and we stop to remember Mum, who passed away on 23rd December 2006. The timing of her goodbye seemed especially sad as she loved Christmas so much.
I thought I'd mark this day by reflecting on the positives - what her collection of recipes has achieved since she died. It's also a good excuse to dig out this gem of a photo. I'm the one in pink looking like butter wouldn't melt. Looks can be so deceiving!
Today, 10 years to the day since Mum's passing, I'm feeling sad - but also very proud of the legacy that she left behind.
I've just transferred £644 to Doctors of the World from the latest batch of recipe books sold, bringing the total raised to this brilliant charity up to almost £5,000. Before Doctors of the World, the book was available as a PDF download for the Red Cross Syria Crisis Relief Fund for which I raised £2,994. The grand total that Mum's recipes have raised for charity is just short of an incredible £8,000.
As well as online sales, the recipes have been used at various fundraising and cultural events where they went down a storm. They've been bought and shared by hundreds of people - something she would never have believed possible. But then she would never have believed the devastation that would happen in Syria just a few years after her death. I hope the new year finally brings some kind of peace to those who have suffered so terribly over the last few years.
Among the heartbreaking news that seems to make daily news headlines, what isn't so publicised are the stories of people doing amazing things to help those affected by conflict.
Bath Welcomes Refugees (BWR) is one such charity - a group of like-minded people who aim to extend a helping hand to people affected by war who are in need of safety, security and a place to call home. Bath has welcomed five Syrian families so far and it is hoped that our city, with its proud history of taking in refugees during the second world war, will be able to take in more vulnerable families over the coming years.
I'm helping BWR to organise a Syrian feast in Larkhall, Bath on 15th January, where we'll be serving dishes cooked by our Syrian residents - plus there'll be a number of Taste of Freedom cookbooks for sale during the event. I can't wait to try out such an authentic taste of Syria, some of which are dishes I've never heard of and sound delicious. Anyone interested in coming along can email firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets and more info.
Thanks to everyone that's supported the book this year, and a very happy 2017 to you all.