A lesson in love

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Jewells Lifestyle Community resident Irene Shirlow with Avondale School students Eleora and Samara.

What could a group of elderly women and a class of 14-year-olds possibly have in common? As the two recently came across each other in the Avondale School classroom kitchens, the answer quickly became apparent.

Ten elderly retirees from Lake Macquarie’s Jewells Lifestyle Community (NSW) joined a class of Year 8 food technology students from Avondale School, Cooranbong, pairing up on one morning in September to share and prepare tried, trusted and treasured family recipes.

Jewells Lifestyle Community resident Marie Ryan with Avondale School students Zoe and Caoimhe.

“It was a lesson in love,” said Avondale School food technology teacher Tarlae Bradford.

“The group came together with such beautiful purpose, with my students learning that food keeps memories alive. Each retiree shared not only a recipe, and cooked it alongside the students, but also a heartfelt conversation about the stories and love associated with that food item,” she said, adding that the voices of the women really brought the recipes to life.

In what was a very spirited and fun filled morning, full of the flavours and scents of lives well lived and loved, the students enjoyed not only a practical lesson in cooking, but also discovered what natural ageing looks like, learning that hanging out with the elderly can actually be a whole lot of fun.

Jewells Lifestyle Community resident Penny Gawthorn having fun in the kitchen with Avondale School students Lara and Olivia.

88-year-old participant Marie Ryan thoroughly enjoyed the morning sharing her treasured Almond Biscuit recipe.

“Food is comforting,” she said. “Bringing people together and nurturing them in a way that conversation alone cannot. This recipe reminds me of so many good times I have had with family and friends throughout my life, and of stories shared over a good cup of tea.”

Marie’s sentiment was echoed by fellow Jewells Lifestyle Community residents Irene Shirlow and Penny Gawthorn.

As for what the women and the students have in common? “Definitely an understanding that cooking and baking are so much more fun when shared,” said Penny.