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DIY SOS's Nick Knowles: I'm a 104kg, 6ft 2in rugby-playing vegan

Oswestry | News | Published:

Best known for building and renovating homes on the hit BBC One show DIY SOS, Nick Knowles returned to Shropshire – to launch his first vegan cook book.

Nick Knowles leads the DIY SOS team

He admitted he may not be known for his love of food, but it has become his passion. And, having invested in a cafe in Shrewsbury, he also described his love of vegan food.

Nick Knowles with his new cookbook

"You tend to think that most vegans are petite, small, slim people – and I'm not," the 54-year-old TV presenter joked.

"I am a 46-inch chest, 6ft 2in, 104kg, rugby player.

"I found the vegan world was owned by an elite group and I wanted to make it more accessible for everyone."

Nick is also gathering something of a following. Organised by Booka Bookshop in Oswestry, the launch of his first book, Proper Healthy Food, was attended by 250 people.

During the event at the Wynnstay Hotel in Oswestry, Nick spoke to the audience about his vegan lifestyle.

He said: "My favourite recipe from the book has to be my winter vegetable stew with rosemary and parmesan dumplings. I have been cooking vats of it for the DIY SOS team for about 12 years.

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"Another favourite is the sweet and sour fruit crumble which has a flapjack-like topping and no sugar."

The launch of his book also comes hot on the heels of him investing in vegan cafe and bistro O'Joy in Shrewsbury's Wyle Cop.

He met the owner Becky Porter, whilst filming an edition of DIY SOS in Ludlow.

He had recently turned his hand to nutrition and wellbeing following his life-changing BBC2 series The Retreat, and was looking for somewhere good to eat.

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He explained: "When Becky Porter set up O' Joy in Shrewsbury she only scraped enough money to get by.

"She didn't have the footfall but was very determined.

"I decided to invest in the cafe as I think the vegan lifestyle should be open to everyone. I wanted to give Becky the financial back-up and publicity. It is still her original dream.

"I did not buy into O'Joy for money. I bought into the lifestyle.

"The new book does feature some recipes from the cafe – it is a great place."

Nick said he tries to visit Shrewsbury and O'Joy as often as he can. He attended Shrewsbury Food Festival last year and loves the town's "vibe".

He added: "Shrewsbury is a fantastically foodie town.

"You will not find a finer Eastern chef than Chris Burt, who is just down the road. He is brilliant and very supportive to Becky.

"There is also a big food festival which I am going to attend this year.

"It is such a lovely part of the world here and I like coming back when I can."

Nick will be returning to the area later this month with the DIY SOS team.

The team will be specially adapting Matthew Cooper's home in Trench.

A pupil at Wrockwardine Wood Junior School, Telford, Matthew was diagnosed with brain and spinal cancer, but his teachers and schoolmates rallied round to help him.

After putting out a plea to people in the borough to help, they managed to raise more than £52,000 to adapt Matthew's home so he could return to Trench and live with his family. The visit by DIY SOS means the money raised can be used by his parents, Leigh and Sue, for future medical care.

Dozens of local traders have also come forward saying that they would like to help out with the build.

He said: "DIY SOS is the best job in the world.

"We do amazing things for amazing people.

"It shows and reinforces to people that not everyone is horrible and there are some amazing things people will do.

"We have an army of volunteers who are brilliant and all stay in contact on Facebook.

"There is a whole community of purple shirts.

"It just keeps getting bigger and bigger and I am exciting to be coming to Telford soon for the next project."

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