Ahead of launching her debut cookery book this weekend, Joy Graham has shared that her late son Neil had encouraged her to write it and how it has given her a focus in a year when she “still misses him so much”.

Talking to The Impartial Reporter about the inspiration behind her new cookery book which is called ‘Cooking with Joy’ and contains a wide variety of savoury and sweet recipes, Joy said: “I have always liked cooking, I’ve been cooking from a very young age. My mother was a good cook and I suppose I always cooked with her and over the years I’ve been doing cookery demonstrations in local women’s groups and community centres and people used to say to me, ‘you should put these recipes in a book,’ so I thought, I must do that.”

She continued: “Neil was also my inspiration. He had encouraged me to do it in 2018 and this year I knew I had to do it for him and the church we all loved. It has given me a focus in a year when we still miss him so much.”

Neil Graham tragically died at just 17 years old on May 22, 2018 in an accident at his workplace.

“I was meant to write the cookbook last year but then with what happened to Neil I just never got around to it, I postponed it. I thought this year I need to get around to it and do it so it gave me a great focus to do it,” said Joy, adding that she was given great encouragement from Reverend Canon Ngozi Njoku of Garrison Parish Church, the ladies on the organising committee, her husband Eddie, daughters Cherith and Rebecca and her son Jonathan.

The cookery book will be officially launched on Saturday, December 7 at 7pm in the Gilaroo Centre, Garrison.

On the night there will be a ‘Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook’ bake/cook off with Stanley Allingham, Irish record holder at sheep shearing and John Dolan, a butcher in Kevin McGovern meats.

“I’m going to set them some sort of challenge and they’ll both be cooking the same thing and then they’ll be judged by the audience. The audience will decide who the best cook is and they’ll win a prize,” said Joy.

‘Cooking with Joy’ will be available for sale on the night and there will be a raffle for a wide variety of baking and Christmas items. Supper will be served and there will also be live music.

Joy noted her appreciation of the support she received from local businesses in Garrison and Belleek as well as Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

All profit from sales of the cookery book will go to Garrison Parish Church. Joy added: “I included a picture of ‘Neil’s window’ in the cookery book. We installed and dedicated a stained glass window in the church in memory of Neil.”

“The most important thing for us as a family is that Neil is always remembered,” she told this newspaper.