Food, a guest speaker, and lots of chat!
We are a group of people, mostly over 65's, who are on our own and who live in the immediate neighbourhood.
Once a fortnight on a Thursday we meet at the church from 11:30am for coffee. This is followed by a delicious meal, after which we listen to a short talk from a guest speaker, and enjoy chatting together. We meet all year round except for the whole of August and a short break over Christmas.
If you know any lonely people who would like to join us to lunch on a regular basis, click here to contact Stephanie Muncherji at the church office. You and they will be most welcome!
Reflections from 2015, by Ann Tarry
We are a group of over 65's who meet fortnightly on Thursday's for coffee, a three course lunch and a short talk. Our guests are mainly people who live on their own and either attend church or live in the surrounding area.
2015 was a very special year to us as we achieved 40 years of continuous meetings (see 40 years of Luncheon Club below). To celebrate our Ruby anniversary we had a thanksgiving service in the morning led by our minister, followed by a special lunch with sixty guests consisting of past and present helpers and our current guests.
Our thanks to all the staff who have helped and supported Luncheon Club over the past year!
40 years of Luncheon Club!
November 2015 saw the ruby anniversary of Luncheon Club. Let's have a look back over that time ...
At the beginning of 1975 under the leadership of Rev. Bill Hancock the church was encouraged to look at the needs of the area around the church and ways in which we could reach out to the people in the area. So a survey was carried out with door to door visiting. One of the needs was among the elderly who lived alone and were lonely. Another need identified was that of work with young people and plans for this work were also developed.
Those surveyed had expressed a desire to meet with others socially on a regular basis, so the idea of a Luncheon Club was put forward. It was felt that we had little expertise in the area of providing cooked meals or the facilities for doing so, but the Salvation Army had been running a Luncheon Club in Brunswick Place for a number of years so two or three members visited to seek advice on how they did it.
A team was set up under the leadership of Miss Connie Gardner who had experience in catering and she was charged with drawing up lists of equipment required, planning menus and doing the shopping. A request to church members for donation of saucepans and other utensils met with good response.
A meeting was held on October 6th 1975 of all those interested in helping and again members responded well. Three teams were formed to prepare and serve the meal and starting date of Thursday November 6th was agreed to. Invitations were then extended to people identified in the survey and some church members who lived alone. Catering would be for 15-20 people each week and transport was offered to those who needed it.
The plane was to charge 25p for lunch and 5p for coffee on arrival. Coffee would be served from 11:00am and lunch at 12:30pm followed by a programme of music and other activities arranged by Mr. Charles Wilson between 1:30pm and 2:30pm, a cup of tea being served at 2:30pm and the session would close at 3:00pm. It was agreed that there would be lunches every week with a short break at Christmas and the month of August off and this has been maintained except for when there has been snow and ice which would be hazardous.
Officers were appointed to handle finance, keep the register etc.
Rev. and Mrs. Hancock were usually present each week to host and provide pastoral care for the members.
Soon a committee was set up of all those on the teams and helping with the running of the sessions and it is obvious from the minutes that one of the biggest concerns was the lack of adequate kitchen facilities, there was constantly concern about the cookers, ventilation and need for extra equipment which was a drain on funds.
When Rev. and Mrs. John Hopper came they were also regularly in involved with Mrs. Hopper chairing committee meetings and Rev. Hopper attending most weeks. He recalls one occasion in February 1979 when there was heavy snow and it was thought best to cancel – some members decided they still wanted to meet but as the catering team had not been able to get in it was decided to go and purchase fish and chips for those hardy members!
Inevitably the charge for meals had to gradually increase as food prices rose. By November 1979 40p was being charged for lunch but numbers attending were also increasing with 38 on the register. There were friends who helped with finance such as Miss Elsie Barker who held coffee evenings in her flat for three consecutive years from 1979. These evening were enjoyed by all who attended and certainly helped with purchase of equipment. Another good friend was Mr. Harry Johnson who made regular donations and helped with setting up and taking down tables – his sudden death in a road accident was felt by all.
During this time there were other couples in the church who started to help with the hosting when Rev. and Mrs. Hopper were away, so it was that when they moved on this team took over the hosting duties.
When Rev. and Mrs. Eyre came in 1986 they became involved on a regular basis, they have sent us a message of greeting remembering those days:-
I became Minister at Mount Pleasant 29 years ago, both my wife and I were most impressed with the great work being done by the Mount Pleasant Luncheon Club, at that time a good lunch was offered to people who lived on their own and transport was offered to all who needed it.
We used to host and found it a great opportunity to meet with people in a friendly caring environment. It was a time of pastoral care and outreach, later others shared the hosting responsibility and my wife Margaret began a rota of people who could share in this ministry and this has carried on ever since. We remember the many dedicated people who provided lovely lunches, transport, booking of speakers who gave a wide variety of talks.
Margaret and myself have been recalling some of the people who were involved – Elsie Barker who always sat with Mr. Waterfield who had the catchphrase –“hmm very tasty” Mick Manders and Bernard White on transport, Gordon and Audrey Cameron and many other folk who gave unstintingly to this valuable ministry to so many people.
Happy Anniversary, may the work continue.
Over the years there were changes in staffing and there was at least one crisis when a whole cooking team resigned and there was serious thought whether it would be possible to continue to serve lunches every week. Fortunately this problem was solved and to date lunches have only been cancelled when the weather has made it unsafe for our friends to come.
In 1998 there was a request from some Bethany residents to be allowed to attend and it was agreed that this would be acceptable but transport could not be provided. The following year it was agreed that couples would be eligible to attend. In 1999 the church was celebrating its 125th Anniversary and Rev. and Mrs. Hancock were invited back, so on March 12th that year there was a special lunch when all hosts and those involved with Luncheon Club were invited to meet with the Hancocks.
It was in the year 2000 that at last we had a “proper” kitchen equipped with all modern facilities including a dishwasher. It is incredible that for 25 years the lunches had been produced and numbers has increased with the limited facilities that we had then and emphasises the dedication of all those concerned. The new kitchen is situated where the Meeting Room was that was used for the talks and entertainment, so other adjustments also had to be made and the programme was shortened in time. After this the discussion about equipment disappears from the committee minutes! Because funds did not now have to be used for the purchase of these items it became possible to make donations to church funds for the electricity and gas used in the kitchen and this policy continues to this day.
Necessarily over the years with the increase in the cost of food the charges made for lunch had increased but also the numbers of people attending. It was decided that with the better facilities it was possible to have an upper limit of 40 attendees, but it has not always been possible to maintain these numbers and we are always looking for new members to join. The local area had changed and few of our members were living locally, with the setting up of Holiday at Home there was a new inflow of people for a time but now numbers have dropped again and we continue to invite new people. By 2005 the provision of transport had become such a problem that it was decided that this service would have to cease and all members would have to make their own arrangements.
While our Ministers have continued to support the ministry of the Luncheon Club they have not been able to be present on a regular basis and therefore the rota of hosts has continued and they provide pastoral care and concern for the members and are involved in the planning arrangements. Timings have also changed and now coffee or tea is served from 11:30am for any who would like to attend, and some members are pleased to be able to do so although it is not limited to Luncheon Club attendees.
As we give thanks for the service of so many over the years it is not possible to name all those involved but we say a big thank you to all!
If you know any lonely people who would like to join us to lunch on a regular basis, click here to contact Stephanie Muncherji at the church office. You would be most welcome!