Edinburgh chef picks up special award

Emmanuel Ogedegbe and his wife Hazel. Picture: Jon SavageEmmanuel Ogedegbe and his wife Hazel. Picture: Jon Savage
Emmanuel Ogedegbe and his wife Hazel. Picture: Jon Savage
He has had a tough few years balancing a full-time job while caring for his ill wife and dealing with the devastating death of his brother.

But despite the odds being stacked against him, Emmanual Ogedegbe, from Pilton, has been awarded with a special academic prize after passing his HND in hospitality managements with flying colours.

The 47-year-old, who met wife Hazel, 62, in Sengal, won an award from the Scottish Qualifications Authority for his exceptional performance on his course under really difficult circumstances.

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Emmanuel was the sole carer for his wife when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was juggling a full-time job as a chef at the Hilton Grovsenor as well as his studies.

And just as his wife was starting chemotherapy, he received devastating news from home stating his younger brother had died in Nigeria.

“They called me to say my brother had died,” Emmanuel explained. “We were very close and it was a huge blow. It was very hard.”

Emmanuel’s lecturers suggested he put his course on hold but he was determined to complete it.

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“I knew I had to be strong for Hazel. But it was hard coming home at night after working and studying and making sure she is ok but you know what they say – no pain, no gain – and receiving this special award has brought us both happiness.”

The couple have made a life together in Edinburgh but are now faced with further heartache as Hazel’s cancer is incurable.

She said: “I am so proud of him and all the things he has achieved despite the difficult year we’ve had. I made it to the graduation ceremony and it was absolutely fabulous. English is not his first language and yet he has done incredibly well to get where he is.”

Edinburgh College hospitality lecturer Sara MacLeod-Bonnar, who taught Emmanuel, said: “Despite getting this devastating news in the middle of his studies, Emmanuel never faltered. We said he could put his course on hold but he was determined to continue. His attitude was amazing. He had so much going on but he remained a very committed and enthusiastic student, who stayed smiling throughout.

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“Getting the SQA Award is a fitting tribute to all he’s achieved and the admirable way he has gone about it. He’ll make a huge success of whatever he goes on to do and everyone at the college wishes him all the best.”

Jean Blair, SQA director of operations, said: “Emmanuel’s achievements in the face of such adversity really are an inspiration.”