Volunteers cook up a feast as an early Christmas treat

Volunteers from The Southern Co-operative cooked up a feast for the Royal Voluntary Service lunch club in Liss and Rowlands Castle (Hampshire) as an early Christmas treat for their members and volunteers.

Liss RVS Christmas lunch cooked by The Southern Co-operative Dec 2014 with Chief Exec Mark Smith

Photo: The Southern Co-operative Chief Executive Mark Smith (standing) joined colleagues to cook and serve lunch for Liss Royal Voluntary Service lunch club members and volunteers as a pre Christmas treat. Pictured with Mark, clockwise from front left: RVS volunteer Jenny Hance with lunch club members Dot Abery, Pat Stone (aged 99 years), Geoffrey and Kathleen Read, Rosemary Densham

Around 60 lunch club members and volunteers in Liss and 20 in Rowlands Castle tucked into roast beef with all the trimmings followed by mince pies and cream, donated by The Southern Co-operative. Chairman Mike Hastilow, together with Chief Executive Mark Smith, Board Directors and colleagues from The Southern Co-operative stores in Liphook, Clanfield, Tipner, its central support office in Portsmouth and the Bereavement Centre worked together to prepare, cook and serve lunch then clear away and wash up. Mark said: “Our business is not only about running convenience food stores and funeral branches; as a co-operative we aspire to make a positive difference locally and volunteering is an important aspect of our community support. We actively encourage colleagues to get involved and offer their help to local good causes all year round. For the past few years we have worked with local organisations to serve Christmas lunch and bring some festive cheer to those who may not enjoy the luxuries at this time of year that many of us take for granted.” Mark added: “The stalwart RVS volunteers also deserve a break from cooking, serving and washing up too so we invited them to enjoy lunch with their members and let us do their work for a change!”

The Southern Co-operative Ingrid McAllister Derry (L) & Carol Milford RVS Christmas lunch volunteering Rowlands Castle Dec 1

Photo: More used to serving others in her role of volunteer Treasurer for Rowlands Castle Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), Carol Milford and fellow RVS lunch club members and volunteers were treated to a festive lunch provided, cooked and served by The Southern Co-operative. Carol is pictured here with Ingrid McAllister-Derry from The Bereavement Centre.

Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) is a volunteer organisation that enriches the lives of older people and their families across Britain. They support older people by giving time and practical help to help them get the best from life.

Liss RVS volunteer, Jenny Hance, explained: “Liss has an above average elderly population, many of whom have lived in the village most of their lives. Liss Luncheon Club has been running for 33 years and every Thursday, the club provides the opportunity for 50 – 60 elderly people to get out of their homes and meet their friends at Liss Village Hall whilst enjoying a first class hot lunch. The club is run entirely by a committed volunteer team, who give many hours of their time to preparing and serving appetising and nourishing lunches which are freshly cooked freshly on the premises using local suppliers wherever possible.” She added: “The Southern Co-operative’s help also gave some of our volunteers a well earned rest as we operative 50 weeks of the year. We have 23 volunteers who cook, do veg, lay tables, make tea and coffee and of course, wash and wipe up which is amazing for a small village!”

volunteers Claire Howcroft & Dawn Johnson from The Southern Co-operative serve lunch to RVS members and volunteers Dec 2014

Photo: Volunteers from The Southern Co-operative cooked and served lunch for Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) lunch club members and volunteers as a pre-Christmas treat. Pictured are volunteers Claire Howcroft (L) and Dawn Johnson.

Children from Puddleducks Nursery in Liss and St John’s School in Rowlands Castle entertained guests with Christmas carols. Liss RVS members Olive Moodie and Joan Kemp enthused; “We’ve absolutely loved it; it’s been Christmas Day for us both today.” Joan added: My only treat is to come to the RVS lunch club and I’ve been coming every week for 15 years. I get picked up and meet all my friends here. We wouldn’t miss it for anything.”

Find out more at royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk