Masterchef makes a difference

Thu 25 Jan 2024

Alun, in his scheme's kitchen

Cooking up a treat at Haven schemes in Pontardawe has become Alun’s speciality over the last few years.

Sunday lunch, curry nights, cawl and even the odd BBQ over the summer months, it has all helped bring residents together to create a community.

In fact, anything social, Alun is instrumental in making it happen!

Alun Watkins moved to one of our Haven schemes in Pontardawe three years ago. A sociable sort, he was never going to keep himself to himself and was keen to get to know his new neighbours.

Following Covid the social calendar at the scheme was bare, so Alun soon became instrumental in organising regular coffee mornings, quizzes, and karaoke nights, but when it came to cooking up a treat in the kitchen he really came into his own.

“We have a committee which runs the social side of stuff and things were really coming good. I love cooking, traditional Sunday dinners, your old school desserts, comfort food really. I’ve always cooked, taught by my mother and grandmother, it’s just something I enjoy. So, I thought well, can we do it here?

“The answer was a resounding no – we just didn’t have the right equipment in the lounge to cater for everyone. So, I put in some funding applications to get a freezer, extra fridge, extra microwave, plates, cutlery and bain-maries.

“With all that in place it meant I can now confidently cook for up to 30 people and boy, do we enjoy. Everyone chips in to cover the cost of the food with anything left over put back into the committee, which can help with nice trips and afternoons out where I have a day off from cooking!

“In the summer, lunch is every other weekend with the odd BBQ if we get good weather. I do try to grow my own veg, so we had kidney beans galore last year, the carrots were all shapes and sizes, but they tasted great!

“In the winter Sunday lunch is the highlight of the week. We had beef last Sunday with rice pudding as a dessert, just the way my mam used to make it.

"In the main it’s our residents, but people sometimes bring a friend, or they might know someone in the community who is a little bit lonely, everyone has the best of welcomes.”

Word is spreading, and Alun cooked up a treat in another Ponty scheme just before Christmas with a  traditional turkey dinner.

“People were worrying they were going to poach me, but I love it here, I’m not going anywhere!”