Volunteers who had contributed to the support of the community during the COVID pandemic were invited to enjoy afternoon tea in the garden of St Mary Magdalene Vicarage.
The Revd Matthew Price, Vicar of St Mary Magdalene, explained: “one of the extraordinary things about the COVID pandemic was the way the community came together to support one another. At the height of the first lockdown, we were sending out food parcels to about 90 households a week and that was only possible because of an army of volunteers that came together from our church, other churches in the town, and the wider community in a time of crisis. We wanted to mark and celebrate that community spirit and say thank you to the many volunteers who have given their time, in so many different ways – seen and unseen – over the last eighteen months.”
During the afternoon guests were treated to a spread of savoury and sweet treats, provided by the church family at St Mary Magdalene. Even the young people of the church got involved with some of the treats being provided by a team of young people who gathered to bake in the church hall on the previous Friday.
Everyone who attended received a special thank you gift, but particular contributions were also marked by the presentation of certificates by Anna Price, Community Lead for St Mary Magdalene. Amongst others, Maresli Saiko, a long-standing volunteer at the church’s foodbank received the award for “Chief-Negotiator”, recognising her skill at securing donations of food from supermarkets and other businesses. Ian Cox, who retired as the pandemic began, and has since turned his hand to many tasks as part of the team received the award for “Jack-of-all-trades”.
Mike Smith-Clare, a borough councilor, and one of the volunteers who attended with his family commented after the event: “It was absolutely lovely. Thank you so much for everything you do.” Glenys Bright, another volunteer, said: “It was such a lovely afternoon with so many happy faces; a cup of tea with friends and a huge selection of cakes and sandwiches. The sun shone on us – my idea of heaven.”
St Mary Magdalene foodbank continues to operate and is open for clients to visit on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, between 9.30am and 12 noon. In addition, the church hosts a community lunch on Tuesdays (arrivals from 12 noon) which is open to all. There are also informal drop-ins with coffee and cake on Wednesday and Friday mornings (including craft on Fridays).