Ray cooks up a storm

Ray talks about learning how to cook and his determination to stay active and healthy.

“I never thought that I’d be enjoying life since I lost my wife,” says 92-year-old Ray Laver. “We were married for 62 years, so when I lost her it was a great tragedy for me.”

A very smart man whose sprightly appearance belies his venerable age, Ray had always led a busy life. So when his wife passed away after a stroke seven years ago, Ray was determined to fill his time as productively as possible. He strongly believed that to keep busy was to keep healthy, both in mind and body.

But like many older gentlemen, Ray found himself struggling in one area in particular – the kitchen. For 62 years his wife had cooked every single one of his meals, and suddenly Ray was on his own.

“Before, if I was in the kitchen, I was in the way, simple as that,” he explains. “My wife used to say, God help you if I go first!”

Then one day, whilst attending a fundraiser at his local school, Ray was approached by one of LinkAge’s Community Development Workers. 

“He came up and introduced himself, and he said, what do you think we could be doing for people in this area?” recalls Ray. “And I said, well how about people in my position – widowed – and cooking classes? He said, that’s quite a good idea, we’ll arrange it.”

Soon afterwards, Ray found himself getting ready to begin his very first cooking lesson. A man of traditional tastes, he was rather surprised when the first thing the instructor did was to get out a large wok.

“I said, I’ve never done a stir-fry in my life!” he laughs.

Despite his trepidation about making something completely new to him, Ray soon found that the class made it much easier than he had ever imagined. As well as teaching him some much-needed cooking skills, he found that the classes also led to him making some new friends.

“They put us in pairs and that was a great experience,” says Ray. “It was great fun, and we had a good old chat between us as we were doing it.“

Whilst attending the cooking classes, Ray discovered that LinkAge was running many other activities locally. Within weeks he had tried his hand at New Age Curling and become a member of his local LinkAge Advisory Board, helping to establish even more new activities in the area.

“I get great pleasure out of going to various meetings and committees,” explains Ray. “Any activities that are going on that I feel I can go along to support, I do.”

Ray has found that his involvement with LinkAge has helped to keep him focused on the present and avoid becoming isolated.

“There are occasions, not very often but occasions where I sit there and dwell on things,” he admits. “So I feel that if I wasn’t getting out and doing these activities then I would start to feel lonely.”

“I’m encouraged that some people who engage with me think, if he can do it, I can do it,” he says. “Because I’m enjoying life immensely, getting out and about meeting people.”

Ray is sure that LinkAge has played an important role in supporting existing groups and local older people in his area, and is looking forward seeing things develop even further.

“From little acorns, oaks grow” he muses. “And I think the beginnings are there – it’s having an effect. It’s certainly having an effect on me!”