Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland prison officer wins BBC Cook of the Year Award

The Northern Ireland Prison Service has congratulated one of its officers after she was crowned Cook of the Year at the 2018 BBC Food and Farming Awards.

Helen Boyce was nominated by the Northern Ireland Prison Service for her work to transform the lives of female prisoners at the Hydebank Wood College’s canteen, The Cabin.

The initiative was born from Helen’s idea to cook and sell breakfast baps at the College a number of years ago. Since then, through social enterprise funding, the Cabin has grown into a fully operational canteen.

Congratulating Helen on her win, Head of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, Ronnie Armour, said: “Helen has not only delivered an excellent canteen providing nutritious food, she has also helped to transform the lives of those prisoners who have worked hand-in-hand with her here.

“I could not be more proud of Helen, of the prisoners who have worked with her, and of the staff at Hydebank who, every day, challenge those in our care and help them to change their offending behaviour.”

BBC judges visited the college earlier this year, where they met Helen and her team of four female prisoners.

She was then shortlisted as one of three finalists.

Helen has worked as a cook at Hydebank Wood College for 11 years.

Commenting on her win, she said: “First and foremost I’m a prison officer, but I enjoy teaching prisoners new skills and working alongside the girls to provide food in the Cabin where we run a very effective catering service for all staff and prisoners.

"I was shocked when I was contacted by the BBC and delighted to win this award.”

The BBC Food and Farming Awards were held on Wednesday evening in Bristol.

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