By Cara Sulieman
A SCOTTISH midwife who became a surprise best-selling author with her first cookbook is about to publish the THIRD edition – with a little help from her celebrity friends.
Linda McDonald, 49, has already raised £270,000 for a hospital in Malawi through the sale of two cookbooks, and two calendars.
And for her third and final book she has drafted in the help of Big Brother host Davina McCall, Prime Minister’s wife Sarah Brown and former First Minister Jack McConnell.
What started as a conversation on the night shift at Simpson’s Maternity Unit in Edinburgh four years ago has turned into a charity that has attracted the attention of politicians and celebrities across the country.
All through networking
And now she has just published the third, and final, instalment of the recipe book that has sold like hot cakes every year it has been out since 2005.
Linda said: “I’ve done three books because Delia Smith did three. Three is a good number, all good sequels are trilogies.
“When I first started I never thought I would sell 500, never mind the 5,000 I’d sold in the first three weeks.”
With over £35,000 raised so far for the charity, Linda has done it all through networking, only selling her books through a few independent shops.
This year, she has the added bonus of recipes from Sarah Brown, Jack McConnell and Davina McCall to pull in the crowds.
“A lot we can learn”
Unlike the previous two books, the new one contains recipes mainly from friends of MUMs who have been helping her over the years.
MUMs was set up after Linda heard about the conditions in the maternity hospitals in the African country.
When she went to visit, she found that despite the poverty and awful conditions in the maternity wards the women were brave.
She said: “There is a lot we can learn from Malawi. Women nurture their babies more naturally and they are very family-oriented.
“But they are living on a knife-edge of survival. They can’t afford to grieve like we grieve; they are just trying to survive.
“I feel humbled by their resilience. I feel exhilarated by the strength of their spirit.
“My books bring two basic human experiences together – food and childbirth. People like Sarah Brown appreciate a recipe as much as a woman giving birth in a mud hut.
“And Sarah Brown and the woman in the mud hut have been through the same experience of childbirth.”
In keeping with the home-grown nature of the charity, the recipes donated to the book are all down to earth family favourites.
Jack McConnell has given Linda his mother’s recipe for Chairman’s Chicken, which he says is a “favourite for family dinners”.
And Davina McCall contributed Hearty Vegetable Soup and Sarah Brown a recipe for humble Cauliflower Cheese.
Linda has never gone out of her way to attract her high profile supporters, merely encountering them in her work and wining them over with her enthusiasm.
Sarah Brown got involved after talking to Linda when she helped deliver both her sons, and the Prime Minister’s wife went on to highlight the work to Davina McCall who was visiting Malawi for Comic Relief.
The money raised from the third book will go towards providing an ambulance for a midwife working out of the high risk maternity wing at Bwaila District (Bottom) Hospital and the provision of a part time councillor to help HIV positive nurses and midwives.
The charity is also taking on a new project with the provision of feeding stations in Lilongwe, Malawi to provide highly nutritious porridge to over 200 malnourished children.
Two have already been set up, and a third is planned for later this month.
MUMs Recipes Three: Friends can be bought from Craigie’s Deli and Farm Shop, W.H. Smith shops throughout Scotland on The Gyle at weekends in November.
Orders can also be made by post, sending cheques for £6 per book made payable to ‘MUMs Recipes’ to Smart Design and Print, Unit 11, West Gorgie Park, Hutchison Road, Edinburgh, EH14 1UT.
Anyone who wants to donate to the feeding stations should contact Linda by email firstname.lastname@example.org.