SSAFA Cookbook

Filed Under: Support Services

Everything Stops for Tea… The SSAFA Cookbook


Gill Sharpe is the Publicity and Awareness coordinator for SSAFA, Wiltshire, and has been in a volunteer role at SSAFA for about six years. Gill wanted to find a way of communicating about the work of SSAFA which could be out there in the community, could be palatable in terms of the delivery vehicle, but would be useful and a bit of fun as well.


How the Book Came About


The SSAFA Wiltshire office was given the little maroon notebook after a volunteer had retired, and it showed the workings of the biennial SSAFA bazaar, put on by the ladies of the local SSAFA branches,  in the Salisbury Guildhall. it was such an interesting little time capsule, that Gill felt something should be done with it, as it would be a shame to lose that window into the past.


So Gill came up with the idea of a cookbook, which included elements from the archive, included recipe contributions from across Wiltshire, with some great illustrations, but most importantly, some bite-size chunks of information about the charity.  

Gill says "I had to get approval from our committee, but having done that, started to pull everything together. I put the feelers out far and wide for a selection of recipes, and eventually they started to arrive from across the county. A local artist and architect, Anne Swift, provided all the illustrations free of charge."


History in the Pages


Gill then set about deciding which pages from the notebook should be included, there were so many interesting snippets, and it just harked  back to an age where things were done very differently. No Internet, no World Wide Web, no mobile phones, so everything done face-to-face, or by letter. Few people even had telephones back then, so the amount of work and coordination involved must’ve been huge.  



Help with Publishing


Gill found a publisher, Riverside Publishers, in the Woodfords, who had been recommended, and proved to be invaluable. Nothing was too much trouble. Duncan from Riverside Publishers gave Gill lots of advice on the plan for the book, the layout, the visuals, and was really extremely cooperative from start to finish.

There were an enormous number of requests to change things, to move things around, to adjust fonts, Pantone colours et cetera, but he did everything with a smile. The biggest headache was the proofreading, because you could read it through a dozen times, and still there would be errors.  


All about SSAFA


Gill says "The information about the charity was slightly more problematic, as we had to get permission from those individuals whose case studies were included to use the information. It also had to be proof checked against the current SSAFA information, so that piece of work took quite some time. Central Office had to corroborate and check anything that I was including in the book, and to ensure that the information was as current as possible. Eventually the format was agreed, and it was sent for printing."  


Lt Gen Sir Andrew Gregory (SSAFA Controller and CEO) provided the foreword.  

The book was fundamentally a publicity and awareness raising piece, Gill was told she had to cover her costs, which is why the book is not a giveaway, but is on sale at £16. This more or less covers the outlay, but gives only a very smallest amount of profit for the charity.  


Once the book was published, and Gill had the 500 copies, she then had to work out how it was all going to be distributed.


Gill said "If I’m honest, this has been the most difficult part, as finding outlets given that there was no profit margin for shops has been difficult. I organised to go to a number of Christmas fairs and craft fairs, and also persuaded the Wiltshire libraries to take a copy for each of their 17 premises. Two bookshops did agree to take the book, but I did have to give them a discount in order for them to make any thing at all on the sale . if I were to do this again, I would investigate the distribution in far more detail, and have a plan to try and have sales outlets already identified."


Everyone Loves It


The book appears to be very well received, everybody who has a copy, says what an interesting and different read it is. A lot of people would have liked to have a few more pages of the archive in there, and certainly if I were to do a reprint, I would make some additions in that way.  



Gill said "I have sold just shy of 400 copies to date, so still have 100 copies of the original print run. Given that it is about the charity, I would really love would be to do another print run, with some updates if necessary, but find a far better way of distributing the book."


How You Can Order A Copy!


I am fulfilling the orders, if you publish my SSAFA email they can come through to me and I despatch. P and P is £3. They are also available through the Whitehorse bookshop in Marlborough, but if your subscribers aren’t local to Wiltshire, that’s no help!  or