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TIMY’S The new catering van serving the Matson Community.

Posted on Feb 22, 2017
When life has been getting you down there is nothing like cooking up a storm and looking to the future.

With the support of the community builders at the Redwell Centre, Matthew Smith from Matson is being supported to be able to work in a voluntary capacity on a burger van delivering great value fast food to the Matson community.

Matthew, 35, said: “I had worked in places like Silverstone and Twickenham, Download and V festivals on chicken and chip and fish and chip vans managing eight people in a team, but employers do not like to employ people that have epilepsy because it is so unpredictable.”

Matthew was walking to work one day when he was 18 and the next thing he knew was that he had woken up in hospital having had epileptic fits for 24 hours. He said he was then sent away without further treatment but again on his way to work the same thing happened and he was diagnosed with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy.

Matthew’s seizures were under control, however he faced some of the worst heartache that anyone could imagine when he lost his son to cot death when he was three months old. The loss of his son Romeo and other sad events that came to light led to him having increased seizures and then developing depression and anxiety.

The medication that Matthew take causes him some problems in everyday life, but with the team there they are helping him to keep working, and it is also making money for the centre. This opportunity became possible due to the support and loan of the burger van from Mark Gayle from the Gateway Trust. Plus the Barnwood Trust gave him a £2,000 grant for equipment.

Matthew said: “I am so grateful to all of the people that are supporting me. I really enjoy what I do and it would not have been possible if it wasn’t for Vanessa and the team at the centre.”

His eldest son is proud of his father and enjoys seeing his dad at work and nips along to the van to get a burger when his dad is working.

Matthew said: “My boy is funny, he always jokes that he wants to get involved with the family business, but not just yet son.”

Redwell Centre Community builder Hayley Huntley, 37, said: “We identified that Matthew really enjoyed cooking and when the manager Vanessa was given this burger van he was really excited about it.

“Fair play to him it needed a good clean and he went in there and did it all and it was a big job and with the funding he has what he needs to cook.”

They applied for licences for him to be able to cook on the street, they had a two trial days to see how it would go and now it has been approved. Plus he has a five star food standards agency standard rating as well.

Hayley said: “It has really built his confidence, he started from scratch and he has done this himself.”

Matthew is happy working with the community and giving back to the Redwell Centre after they supported him to get through some real hardship.

Matthew said: “This place Matson is where my heart and soul is, and being able to do this and contribute still even though I have this condition it is just brilliant and not me sitting around all day.”

The Epilepsy Society website says: “Medication can be successful in controlling seizures, which often continue into adulthood and may become less severe.

“Tiredness, stress and alcohol can trigger seizures. Up to forty percent of children or young people with JME have seizures that are triggered by flashing or flickering lights.”