selkirk’s Rena Turnbull was a runner-up in a national care competition last week, writes Sally Gillespie.
The Riverside Care Home assistant cook was a finalist in the nutrition and eating well category of the Scottish Care Awards.
The delighted chef said: “I’m really chuffed. I got an award for being in the finals and it’s displayed here at work. I’m over the moon, too, because it gets recognition for this home.
“It was a fantastic surprise to be selected as a finalist and a wonderful feeling to have received so many nominations from people I work with – it really blew me away.”
The 52-year-old from Bannerfield admitted: “I was excited to go to the awards but I was quite nervous because I thought ‘why pick me?’ There are other folk here who do just as much as I do.”
The awards attracted more than 300 entries and the ceremony followed the Scottish Care National Conference at which Nicola Sturgeon, Cabinet Secretary for Health, was one of the speakers.
The popular cook previously worked at the Selkirk home as domestic help for eight years before returning again, this time to work her magic in the kitchen, in September 2009.
Manager Mary Armstrong said: “Rena goes the extra mile. She went and got a relative of somebody here who hadn’t seen them for a long time and brought them in to see them. When she’s giving out breakfasts, she sits down and speaks to people – about everything, what’s going on in her own life, what they used to like doing ... She just goes that extra mile.”
Rena told The Wee Paper the secret to her success in the kitchen was home-cooking. She said: “There’s nothing fancy, it’s just what the people here would eat at home. Good old-fashioned cooking that they love.”
And she said: “I really enjoy my work. Some people here don’t get many visitors and I like to talk to them about the old days, what they did when they were young and what television programmes they watched.
“I like hearing their stories and just getting on with everybody.”
She was nominated by operations manager Sue Briggs who said: “I cannot praise Rena highly enough for the hard work she has put in over the past year. She has worked tirelessly building up an excellent rapport with each and every one of our residents. I believe that her hard work has helped build our reputation as quality care providers.”