Magical moment for caring chef who transforms lives of patients

Chris and Bernadette in the Buckingham Palace gardens
Chris and Bernadette in the Buckingham Palace gardens

A hospice chef enjoyed a magical day as a guest at the Queen’s Garden Party last week, afterbeing nominated for the way he changes lives with his caring approach.

Chris Took, aged 55, who has been catering manager at Berhamsted’s Hospice of St Francis for the last 14 years, and his wife, Bernadette Grimer, enjoyed sandwiches, tea, cakes and a stroll around the beautiful Buckingham Palace gardens at the prestigious event.

Chris Took and Jeni Henderson in the hospice kitchen

Chris Took and Jeni Henderson in the hospice kitchen

Chris said: “I didn’t meet the Queen but I was a few feet away from her and it was such an honour.

“Just being there, walking on the red carpet where you know the great and the good have walked before and seeing the Queen, looking wonderful in pink, was incredible.

“It was a bit like a wedding day when you want it to go in slow motion so you can savour every minute.

“We met lots of interesting people and compared notes on why we were there. It’s a memory we’ll treasure all of our lives.

“The whole day was magical.”

Chris was nominated for the accolade by hospice volunteer Jeni Henderson.

Jeni, aged 69, who has volunteered at the hospice for 27 years, said: “I’m thrilled that Chris and Bernadette had such a wonderful day at Buckingham Palace.

“I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more.”

And she added: “I just can’t speak highly enough of Chris. He’s a very special person.

“Whenever a patient comes into the hospice, he makes a real effort to find out not only their dietary requirements but their likes and dislikes and any special treats he might be able to provide.

“That kind of attention to detail, combined with his gentle coaxing, can transform a patient in days from someone who is weak from hardly eating to someone who is re-energised, looking forward to their next meal and enjoying a better quality of life.”

Jeni also nominated the caring chef for the six-week Cooking With Chris courses he spearheaded with his team three years ago, which help equip bereaved adults and teenagers with vital skills in the kitchen and are a therapeutic aid to coping with loss.

Jeni said:“The course changes lives.

“It helps men who have lost wives who’ve been the cooks their entire married lives, widows who’ve lost a husband and with them their motivation to cook for one, and teenagers who’ve lost a parent.”