A fundraising cookbook has been launched in memory of a Dromore man with Apert Syndrome who passed away last year.
Jane Russell says her life was “shattered forever” when she found her son Paul had died in his sleep on the morning of June 27, 2022, at the age of only 23.
‘Russell Up A Recipe!’ was launched on Wednesday night (November 22) at the Palace Demesne in Armagh and contains a range of over 130 recipes from doctors from Great Ormond Street Hospital, politicians, old school teachers, friends and family.
The launch proved successful, with around 40 family and friends attending the reception, hosted by Lord Mayor of ABC Council Alderman Margaret Tinsley.
There’s no shortage of demand either, with the book having had over 250 pre-orders and nearly 400 copies sold already.
It was designed by DUP Councillor Peter Haire and has come to light thanks to the contributions, adverts and donations from a wide range of people.
Paul was born with a rare genetic condition called Apert Syndrome, which causes the fusion of bones in the skull, hands and feet.
The condition required Paul to undergo hundreds of hospital appointments and admissions, both locally and at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
Despite Paul’s physical limitations, he tried everything, encouraged by his parents.
Mum Jane described Paul as the “most laidback, loving young man you would ever wish to meet”.
“His love for life and everything he did shone through with the most beautiful smile,” she added.
Eight weeks after Paul passed away, his family and friends took part in a ’60 miles in 30 days’ walking challenge, which raised £12,000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital.
It was well supported by the community too, with 135 people turning out to walk around Dromore on the last night.
They did more fundraisers throughout the year and raised a further £11,700 for Stepping Stones NI.
The idea behind the recipe book came from Paul’s love of all-things food, with Jane explaining that when Paul returned from his many surgeries he always asked for his dinner!
Continued Jane: “With this in mind I decided to produce this recipe book. Friends and professionals who travelled alongside Paul over the years were invited to submit a recipe and if they wished to dedicate it in memory of a loved one.”
The proceeds of the first 500 copies of the book will be split between Epilepsy NI and Dromore Cathedral. The proceeds of the remaining copies will go to the Paul Russell Foundation, which was set up in memory of Paul.
The Foundation is among a number of initiatives established by the family.
Jane explained: “When Paul died, there was little to no support for bereaved families, so we have started up our own bereavement group in Dromore called LIGHTS (Living In Grief Help Through Support), which meets once a month in the Barrel & Bean.”
The group is growing, with 25 people now attending within six months.
The family have also started a support group for over-18s called ‘The Pringle Club’, with the aim being that young people can come together to socialise, regardless of their physical or learning difficulties.
“The reason it’s called The Pringle Club is because of Paul’s love of Pringles!” Jane said.
“We found when Paul was 18, the social avenues finished. Once a young person hits 18 there’s very little places for them to go at night.
“We have 21 volunteers ready to go to help with this project. We’ve done all the safeguarding training and any training we need.”
Jane adds that the support from the Dromore community for the book, and even throughout Paul’s life, has been “brilliant”.
She continued: “The reaction to the book has been brilliant and it looks as if it’s going to be Dromore’s number one bestseller for Christmas this year!
“I can’t thank the community enough and I can’t thank Peter Haire enough for helping me put this book together.”
However, for Jane, the money comes in second, with the main aim being to ensure Paul’s memory is never forgotten.
“For me, it’s keeping Paul’s name alive and having that book sitting in people’s homes for years to come with his photograph looking at them. Paul was a very popular young man. He will never be forgotten.
“I hope you enjoy reading through it and enjoy making some of the recipes. We dedicate this book in memory of Paul Russell, son, brother and friend to all, who is missed every day.”
‘Russell Up A Recipe!’ is on sale now for £12. It can be purchased in Bridge Books, Graham’s Newsagents and The Bread Box in Dromore.