Belfast Telegraph

Pupils have recipe for success with celebrity cook book in aid of ill classmate

Matthew McKeegan with mum Caitriona
Matthew McKeegan with mum Caitriona
Matthew with his P7 classmates Caoimhe Ni Loingsigh and Darren Quinn
Mary Berry

By Gerald Lennon

Pupils at a Belfast primary school have enlisted celebrity help to offer support to a classmate fighting cancer.

Youngsters from Our Lady of Lourdes Park Lodge decided to raise funds for the hospital unit that's treating their friend Matthew McKeegan (11), who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in February.

They have now managed to produce 152-page cookery book - Celebrities Really Can Cook - with recipes contributed by stars of sport and screen, including actress Courteney Cox, her Snow Patrol fiance Johnny McDaid and Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill. They even got TV bakery goddess Mary Berry to contribute.

Money raised will go the children's cancer unit at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

Teacher Josephine Harkin and her pupils have been keeping Matthew up to date with the book's progress by sending him letters.

Mrs Harkin said: "On hearing that Matthew had been diagnosed with cancer, we immediately knew that we wanted to do something to show our support.

"For a class of foodie critics and celebrity spotters an exciting idea was born - a celebrity-endorsed cookery book.

"Creating the book has helped us explain to the children what Matthew is going through and has shown them ways in which we can help in our own, small way.

"We have received fantastic support from local business i3 Digital and BT and, of course, the celebrities who provided us with their favourite recipes.

"We are truly grateful to them all."

Matthew's mother Caitriona (44) and father Charlie (45), of Bristol Avenue in Belfast, are overwhelmed by the support.

Caitriona said: "When we heard the school was going to do something, we were delighted.

"I think the kids are amazing, the children came up with the idea and they were full of enthusiasm and optimism.

"Mrs Harkin has been great with the kids involved."

Matthew has been in the children's cancer unit since February and has had three rounds of chemotherapy.

"He's doing really well, hopefully he's nearly finished now," his mum said.

"The Children's Cancer Unit Charity have been very good during all of this.

"They paid for the play service, all the equipment and the new facilities in the hospital.

"I'd like to thank the whole school community for their support, and the charity as well.

"The work that the charity do is invaluable for the children, I don't think it would be the same without them."

Jacqueline Wilkinson from the Children's Cancer Unit Charity said: "We absolutely love how creative and entrepreneurial the pupils here at Park Lodge Primary School have been in designing and selling their new cook book.

"All funds raised through the book will go directly towards supporting the work of the children's cancer unit at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

"This will allow the team there to continue to provide the best possible treatment and care for children affected by cancer across Northern Ireland."

Michael O’Neill’s Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

Serves 2


1 large onion, roughly chopped

3 tbsp mild curry paste

400g tin chopped tomatoes

2 tsp veg bouillon powder

1 tbsp finely chopped ginger

1 yellow pepper, deseeded and chopped

2 skinless chicken legs, fat removed

30g pack fresh coriander, leaves chopped

cooked brown rice, to serve


Put the onion, curry paste, tomatoes, vegetable bouillon powder, ginger and  pepper into the slow cooker with a third of a can of water and stir well. Add the chicken and push it under the other ingredients until completely submerged. Cover with a lid and chill in fridge overnight.  The next day, cook on low for 6 hours until chicken and vegetables are really tender.  Stir in the coriander leaves just before serving over rice.

Courteney Cox’s Baked Chicken


Whole, organic chicken

Organic olive oil spray

Kosher salt

Herbes de Provence

Fresh rosemary


Preheat the oven to 170°C .

After patting the chicken with kitchen roll to dry the skin, place it on a baking sheet or shallow pan.

Spray the underside with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt, then Herbes de Provence.

Turn the chicken over (breast side up) and do the same.

Tie the chicken legs together.

Stuff some rosemary sprigs inside the chicken and place a sprig on top.

Bake for two hours uncovered. Remove from oven and let it stand for 5 minutes.

Slice and dip it in the chicken drippings!

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph