Historic Sunderland park building to become cookery school for cancer patients thanks to Life Kitchen founder Ryan Riley
A historic park building is set to be transformed into a cancer cookery school under new plans.
Ryan Riley, who lost his mother Krista to small cell lung cancer, created the charity Life Kitchen to help chemotherapy patients taste food again.
Since the charity launched last year – with support from the North East Business and Innovation Centre – it has propelled the Washington-born food writer into the national spotlight.
Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver and Sue Perkins are among the famous faces supporting the scheme.
After months of searching for a base for the charity, Mr Riley settled on the grade-II listed Mowbray Park Lodge in Mowbray Park.
In recent weeks, planning and development firm Lichfields secured building consent from Sunderland City Council to change the use of the Victorian building.
And a host of North East and national businesses are already backing the project, which is the first of its kind in the country.
Mr Riley, aged 25, hopes the centre will make a difference to people undergoing cancer treatment, their families and the wider community.
“Hopefully in Sunderland it will bring it back to my roots and where my family are, bringing it home and making it a down to earth experience,” he said.
“I want to create a space that’s beautifully designed, to enjoy and to give people a great experience.
“For me, bringing it home was so important.”
The gate lodge was originally built in 1856, was listed in 1994 and has remained vacant since Sunderland Recovery College relocated in 2016.
Approved plans to revamp the site include removing walls to create an open training kitchen and social space.
New electrics, fire alarms, security and extraction systems will also be installed alongside changes to allow disabled access.
When open, the centre will offer cookery classes, operate as a hub to develop new recipes and could also be used as a photography/ TV studio and events space.
Mr Riley is hoping to raise £50,000 in a crowdfunding appeal towards upgrading the electrical supply, equipment and a permanent member of staff to run the cookery school.
The Life Kitchen founder also hopes to work with charities and the NHS to host specific events and is currently looking for a sponsor for the centre.
Works are expected to take place on the lodge next month with a expected opening date of early May.
To find out more about charity Life Kitchen search @lifekitchen on Twitter or visit: crowdfunder.co.uk/lifekitchen
Founder of charity Life Kitchen, Ryan Riley, who has won planning permission to open a cancer cookery school in Sunderland
Caption: Mowbray Park Lodge in Mowbray Park
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service