Ex-con creates cookery class to aid single parents

Sean Fitzharris with his son, Malcolm, aged nine. Picture: Toby Williams.

Sean Fitzharris with his son, Malcolm, aged nine. Picture: Toby Williams.

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A SINGLE dad who was once jailed for dealing drugs is aiming to help others improve their lives by setting up the city’s first cookery school aimed at lone fathers.

Sean Fitzharris hopes his Mums And Dads – or “MAD” – cookery School will inspire time-pressed single parents to rustle up fresh and nutritious meals for their children.

The classes mark a personal turnaround for the 50-year-old from Pilton, who lives with his son, Malcolm, nine, and was sentenced in 2005 to 16 months at Saughton Prison for selling drugs including amphetamines and cannabis.

He was released in early 2006 – not long after Malcolm’s birth – but said life took a bleak turn as the relationship with his partner broke down.

And the situation became even more complicated when he became a single father after it emerged his son’s mother was struggling to look after him.

But attending local cookery classes and discovering a passion for food in early 2013 has helped him turn a corner.

His own two-hour sessions – launching in April with the help of around £1000 from NHS Lothian – will be held over 12 dates at Craigroyston Community High and could be rolled out across the city if enough parents sign up.

The avid cook said he was aiming to cause a stir in Pilton and Muirhouse, where levels of single parenthood remain high.

He said: “People will spend more on a chippy or takeaway because it’s convenient. But it’s probably costing you more. This is about encouraging people to go out, get their messages and cook a meal. You can save money and eat healthily.

“I think sometimes men are too proud to get involved. If we can get two or three men to come along then you can start the ball rolling.”

He said the classes had helped his cooking come on in leaps and bounds, and hopes to see the same progress in students at the MAD cookery school.

“I’m quite handy in the kitchen now. It’s about being confident and that’s the idea behind doing these classes for other dads – to give other single parents that confidence.”

And his son – a P4 pupil at Craigroyston Primary who enjoys helping out in the kitchen – has no complaints about the food offered to him so far.

He said: “My dad’s pepperoni pizza is my favourite. Then it’s spaghetti or noodles. With pizza, I like helping out. It all depends on my mood.”