Ryan Riley: Why I started a cancer cookery school

Point of View is an ITV News series where we invite people to share their life experiences and what they've learned from them.

Ryan Riley struggled in the months after his mother's death but launching the UK's first cancer cookery school felt like the best way to honour her memory.

Krista died from small cell cancer after "a very difficult and emotional" two years of treatment.

"My mother was the most bubbly sort of person, she loved to eat, she loved to cook although she could only really cook about five dishes really, really well," 26-year-old Ryan told ITV News.

"And I think that's why when she lost her sense of taste it became a real big part of her downfall."

According to Cancer Research, one in two people born after 1960 in the UK will be diagnosed with a form of cancer during their lifetime.

And around 28 per cent of cancer patients in the UK have chemotherapy, anti-cancer drugs, which can affect taste buds and cause small mouth ulcers.

The budding chef decided to launch free cooking classes up and down the UK to help cancer patients find the same joy in cooking he and his mother shared.

Even Krista's favourite chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall backed the young cook's idea, opening up the famous River Cottage kitchen for lessons.

One memorable visitor was a 75-year-old northerner who was reluctant to take part.

Ryan said: "He said 'I'm here because my wife has given up on cooking for me and she says this might help' and he'd had quite a lot of cancer for quite a long time and I think it'd really become depressing for him.

"We started the cookery class with pineapple tacos, it's really simple, it's about six or seven ingredients, five minutes and he just tasted it and he just started crying."

The success of the classes led Ryan to create the Life Kitchen cookbook alongside recipe developer Kimberley Duke and Centre for the Study of the Senses founder Professor Barry Smith.

Ryan added: "There is no guide to dealing with it, there's no guide to living with it, there's no guide to dealing with the after effects of it.

"But all you can do is, I think, try to spend the most time with people and fulfil and live your life, eat some good food, it always helps and just really be there for each other."

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