A GROUP of students with autism from LVS Hassocks have spread Christmas cheer within the local community by taking on the responsibility of cooking a huge annual community lunch for senior citizens.

The lunch, which seated over 80 people in Queen’s Hall in Cuckfield, was ailed a great success.

Five students from LVS Hassocks in Sayers Common, all with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, were recruited by Learning Support Assistant Greg Rix from the school to help him put on the annual community lunch hosted by the mayor.

As well as reaching out to do good in the local community, the event gave the students the opportunity to gain experience for their hospitality and catering qualifications at LVS Hassocks, and get a taste of working in a large-scale professional cooking environment.

With one of LVS Hassocks’ aims being to prepare students with autism for future employment and leading an independent life beyond the school, the event was an invaluable opportunity for them.

It allowed them to gain confidence in their skills, provide a sense of achievement and socialise with new people, something which people with autism can find difficult.

Some of the students involved will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Liam Pope, an autistic student who learned to cook at LVS Hassocks, gained his catering qualifications there, and has now gone on to become Chef de Partie in the catering team at Eton College.

After the LVS Hassocks students had prepared, cooked and served up starters, a roast turkey dinner and desserts for over 80 people, the Mayor of Cuckfield Leanne Knapman said: “It has been really great having the LVS Hassocks students here, they have been an amazing help.

“To get 80 starters, main courses and puddings out to get everybody eating three courses together at the same time is no mean feat, so the students have undertaken the logistical side of things brilliantly well in the kitchen”.

Greg Rix, who oversaw the students’ work, said: “The students have made soup, cooked turkey, peeled vegetables, served up and washed up, and the event has run more efficiently with the students involved than it ever did without them.

“They have been right on schedule throughout the day, feedback has been excellent and the students have been an amazing help”.

This was an amazing event for the school to stage successfully.