TWO friends whose mothers-in-law died from cancer last year have put together a cookbook to preserve precious family recipes and help the hospice that cared for their loved ones.

Mel Hargreaves, 37, from Ferring, and Lucy Grace, 38, from Goring-by-Sea, wanted to find a way to give back to St Barnabas House hospice in Worthing.

They hope the sale of their charity recipe book will raise £700 for the hospice.

Lucy said: “Both my mother-in-law, Gill Grace, and Mel’s mother-in-law, Gill Horne, were unwell and going through a similar journey at a similar time.

“After their deaths, we were thinking up all sorts of ways that we might be able to support the hospice and came up with the idea of a recipe book.”

Mel said: “The idea of preserving precious family recipes was important to us as we shared many memorable meals around the dinner table with our loved ones, and when my mother-in-law died, I realised that sadly I didn’t have the recipe for the shepherd’s pie she used to make.”

The friends also wanted to make sure others didn’t lose cherished family recipes, and asked their neighbours if they would like to share recipes with a special place in their hearts.

The book contains 38 recipes spanning several generations, from Ferring Primary School’s legendary 1960s jam roly-poly, to one woman’s “Covid-19 Strawberry Ice Cream” – so named, she said, because pick-your-own fruit farms were one of the first places to open during the coronavirus lockdown.

Alongside their favourite dishes, people have also shared memories of loved ones who were cared for at St Barnabas House.

Mel said: “A lot of the people who reached out have a connection with the hospice. The book is full of precious anecdotes about family members and friends, and it’s nice to be able to preserve these alongside their recipes.”

The friends hope others will be able to benefit from the same care their loved ones received.

“We wanted to raise some money as we know the hospice doesn’t get much government funding,” Mel said.

“St Barnabas was there to guide my mother-in-law and our family through all the different stages of her breast cancer journey – from practical help with filling in forms, to advice on pain relief and emotional support.

“When Gill’s health deteriorated the hospice provided a night sitter, which meant my father-in-law could get some sleep knowing that someone was with her if she needed anything. And when she was admitted to the hospice in April 2019, the care was just so compassionate.

“The nurses took the time to explain everything to us, and on the day she died, they had the care and knowledge to call us at 6am so we had the opportunity to all be there with her as a family for her last few hours.

“They had got her changed into a fresh nightie and everything was as calm and peaceful as it could be.”

Seven months later, Lucy’s mother-in-law, Gill Grace, also spent her last days at the hospice surrounded by her loved ones.

“The support given to the whole family during such a difficult time was wonderful,” Lucy said.

“My mother-in-law had volunteered and given a lot of support to her own local hospice in Lincolnshire before she moved to Sussex.

“So she absolutely knew that at the end of her life she wanted to be in a hospice. She was very reassured to know that she would be cared for at St Barnabas and was kept as comfortable as could be.”

St Barnabas House has been providing hospice care for patients and families in Worthing, Adur, Arun and Henfield for more than 45 years.

Patients are looked after in the comfort of their own homes or at the hospice, where they can get help managing their symptoms, as well as support to make sure they can live life to the full.

Care services for local people living with a terminal illness include specialist community nurses, rehabilitation services including physiotherapy and occupational therapy, family and bereavement support, and admission to a ward for symptom management, respite care, or end of life care.

Patients and families are not charged for the care they receive. But it costs almost £9 million to provide it.

For the remainder, St Barnabas House relies on the generosity of supporters, clubs, societies, schools, groups, trusts and local businesses.

“A Book of Recipes, Memories and Love” contains illustrations by local artist Sharon Porter and is available for a recommended £5 donation, plus postage charges.

To order a copy, you can call 01903 254777. All profits will go directly to supporting the hospice.