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North Leeds’ favourite Jewish foodie, Ira Silverman scoops an award nomination for selflessly feeding frontline hospital staff during lockdown.

Ira Silverman, owner of popular Moortown fress spot Ira B’s has been put forward for the Yorkshire Evening Post Big Thank You Awards for providing hard-working NHS key workers meals throughout the pandemic.

When the March lockdown forced her Chelwood Drive café to close its doors to diners, Ira said she was so used to living life at “a million miles an hour” she felt it right to keep going: “I’ve always been involved with a lot of charity work and it gave me a purpose.”

Rolling up her sleeves, she used the food left in the kitchen to cook meals for the tireless key workers putting in long shifts on the wards of Leeds General, St James’, and Chapel Allerton hospitals: “They were wearing PPE for 12 hours and didn’t have time to shop. At least that way they could take it and either have it when they’re on a break or a lot of the nurses were taking it home for their dinner.”

As the North Leeds community caught wind of Ira’s efforts, donations to help her continue the initiative soon came rolling in, and before long, she was cooking and delivering dinners seven-days-a-week. Over the course of two months, she was rustling up 40 meals daily, sometimes working 20-hour days to feed NHS staff, many of whom did not go home for several weeks: “It was all made with love, all made from scratch.”

To help raise funds, she has also served up her famous Jewish chicken soup for the local community, with an honesty box for donations: “It’s known as ‘penicillin’, it’s a consommé, and it cures. I made takeaway six pots – which normally sell for £6  – and I put 30 outside Ira B’s and 30 outside my family home in the High Ashes and raised £600. It was amazing – people still stop me and give me cash.”

The people of Leeds have been given the chance to pick 10 winners from a shortlist of 30, who will be presented with their awards during a virtual ceremony on 11th December. Ira said she was surprised and humbled to receive the nomination: “I’m just shocked to be honest. I didn’t expect it. I feel privileged – I didn’t do it for recognition. I was trying to spread the love.”