Subdeck – Pat Lidiker talks to Laura Marks about her school’s unique project to give health workers a sweet treat
WITH Covid at its peak, hardly any spare beds for patients at our local hospitals and emotionally and physically shattered medical staff struggling to save lives, it has been a dire start to 2021. Turning out once a week to clap for our overworked NHS has felt somewhat inadequate during this second wave.
But in January, says Laura Marks, marketing officer at Kantor King Solomon High School (KKS), staff and students at the Jewish secondary school hit on a more proactive approach – delivering car-loads of mouth-watering cakes, cookies and other yummy treats.
The school ethos is community, charity and love of learning so this ticked the first two boxes perfectly. What better way for students to show their gratitude than by caring and sharing with the wider community.
“We called the scheme ‘Bake for Carers’ and initially intended to deliver once a fortnight,” remembers Laura. “Students, their parents, teachers and other members of staff all teamed up to cook, wrap each item with a list of ingredients and add a personal thank you message.”
The original plan had to be updated to weekly deliveries after details were posted on the KKS Facebook page. Laura said: “Offers of help from the whole Redbridge community poured in from others wanting to join us and help in any way they could,” Laura says. “It has been astonishing, with more and more outside contributions being dropped off at the school’s security hut on Forest Road. And the icing on the cake has been the response from recipients.”
These include staff at King George’s, Queens, Goodmayes, Homerton, KG Pharmacy, Haven House Children’s Hospice, Chigwell Ambulance Station and Barkingside Police Station. The list just keeps on growing.
Dr Farrel Igielman, whose own children are former students at KKS, offered to personally deliver goodies to his colleagues in the ICU staff rooms at King George’s and Queens Hospitals.
He told the Essex Jewish News: “Everybody is very appreciative, in fact one nurse’s eyes filled with tears when she saw them. It was the message saying the cakes were from a year 8 pupil that did it for her.“
“During the first Covid wave there was applause for the NHS and lots of food was being delivered to our hospitals by well-wishers. The second wave has seen neither, but has been much harder on staff with more patients this time. The doctors, nurses, physios and all health care professionals are exhausted, so receiving these treats really helps lift their spirits.”
Twins Meghan and Lois Keizner have baked weekly. Alongside their Mum Francesca, not only do they take their time to come up with new ideas every week, they love spending time on the presentation, too.
Meanwhile, sisters Jessica and Rosie Preston take it in turns. Rosie, who is in year 8, told us: “I’m cooking for the NHS because they are helping everyone else and we should give back.”
Laura lives in Chigwell where she and her husband have four children – three of them at KKS and the youngest at Wohl Ilford Jewish Primary School.
Like all other families, their life has been disrupted by lockdown, school closures and home schooling. Her husband – a City underwriter working from home – has given her the support to really pursue projects like this one, but Laura stresses it’s the entire KKS team who are doing this for the wider community.
“The whole area, like the rest of the country and in fact the world, is in this together. At KKS we feel it so important that Jewish people can show their solidarity in such a positive way.”