My mum recently found an old copy of the order of service for Doris’ funeral back in 2004. Inside was what was said about her and I wanted to share some of that with you now. Perhaps you’ll see why she inspired me…
‘Doris was renowned for her cooking. She always had something either on the stove or in the oven and was particularly well known for her banana bread. Anyone who visited Doris always went away with what you all called a ‘care parcel’. If your visit has been unplanned you might find you left with a warm rice pudding Doris had just made or even a bag of carrots. Mary (my Nana, Doris’ daughter) said it was really lucky her mum always made her rice puddings ‘firm’. No-one was ever allowed to leave empty handed and if need be she would rummage round in the cupboards looking for something to give to her visit even if it was only a jar of marmalade.’
Even from this short extract, you can just imagine the kind of woman she was. My memories of her before her stroke(s) are hazy, but we were reminded regularly just how special she was, and how the best way to show everyone she cared was through their stomach. Reminds me of our Welbeloved Chef at the moment…
I wanted to share this with you because we hit some sort of record at this lunch. We laid for our largest number yet – 118 people. To think two years ago we were opening The Welbeloved Club and hosting 48 people for lunch, and I was praying I could pull this thing off. We now not only host for a staggering amount of people, we are a strong team of 20-30 volunteers and well on the way to something extraordinary. I so wish Doris could see us now, albeit embarrassed, but so proud especially of my mum for applying everything she taught her growing up. However, she would probably tell us to double the portions and serve extra pudding!
I’m working really hard at the moment to grow The Welbeloved Club behind the scenes now. We have a meeting scheduled with potential Trustees, in the hope we can become something ‘official’, and I’m busy as always getting everything in order. The club has grown beyond anything I could have ever imagined, I’m now at the point where I have had to temporarily stop anyone else joining us for lunch, and any new volunteers joining. Growth has happened month on month, it hasn’t given us the chance to truly adapt and now we really are running at full capacity. There are a lot of processes to establish both month to month and on the lunch day itself, as well as revisions to preparation times and finances to iron out. We are super busy behind the scenes (and I’m working full-time too!) but I promise the waiting list will only be temporary. It’s as much to benefit our guests as it is us, as we never want to falter on the high standards we have worked so hard to create.
This month after lunch, we were lucky to have a talk from the fraud team at Hertfordshire Police. My sister works in the fraud team for Leicestershire Police, so very kindly put me in touch with Alan who offered his services free of charge. We paid him in the only way we know how – food. While tea and coffee was being served, Alan spoke to our guests about staying safe and avoiding becoming a victim of crime. It was very informative and guests were given a very handy booklet on keeping safe online, in their own homes, on their phone and even on their doorstep. Fraud is only getting worse, with older people and those with learning disabilities their main victims. Anything we can do to keep our guests safe we will always accommodate.
I am so proud of what we have achieved with The Welbeloved Club in just two years. I am however aware of the deeper impact the club is now having. On the surface you see the hard work, the cooking, the admin, volunteers and the organisation it takes. However, what you don’t always see is the lifeline the club has become to so many of our guests. One of our ladies had been really struggling in the week leading up to lunch. She spent the entire week completely alone – she hadn’t seen or spoken to anyone. One day she explained how she didn’t even get dressed, and went on to say getting out on Sunday was all that was keeping her going. Not only does it sting because she is one of the sweetest souls I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, but the very thought of her being alone all week was a very bitter pill to swallow. It reminded us all what an incredibly important service we are offering, and the deal we have voluntarily entered into with the older generation. We give them so much, but they give us so much in return. Please please reach out to them because they need us – more than they will ever tell you.
See you soon!