The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Norwich vicar issues urgent radio appeal for volunteers

Rev David Austell made an urgent appeal on BBC Radio Norfolk this week for new volunteers to help save St Luke’s Wednesday Lunch Club in Mile Cross, as long-time volunteers Roy and Mary Hansell plan to retire after 31 years. 

An appeal went out on BBC Radio Norfolk on Saturday morning (November 18) for new volunteers to come forward to help continue the long running Wednesday Lunch Club at St Luke’s Church in Mile Cross, Norwich.

Hansells440Roy and Mary Hansell (left) started the lunch club in 1986 and have run it for the past 31 years, a commitment which was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2013 with the awarding of a British Empire Medal.  However the couple now plan to retire at Christmas along with four others from the Lunch Club team, leaving the future of this valuable service in jeopardy.

Roy Hansell, who is in his late 80s, said: “The time has come for us to go.  We have done 31 years and we have a very successful club.  But we’ve got to go because it is getting beyond us. And we are not alone – all our helpers are on their last legs!”

The Lunch Club, which runs every Wednesday from 10am - 3pm, provides a nutritious two course meal for elderly people in the community, as well as good company and a varied programme of entertainment.

It takes a team of 10 people to effectively run the club but with six volunteers including the Secretary and Head Cook leaving the Vicar of St Luke’s Rev David Austin issued an appeal on BBC Radio Norfolk for new volunteers (click to listen to the feature below). 

Rev David Austin said: “How do we continue the valuable work they have done for the last 30 years or more? There is a commitment to try to keep going.  My fear is that the club, after 30 or more years, is going to end.  And therefore all that work laying the foundations, keeping the contacts, establishing the network is going to be lost. And if we lose it, it is going to be very hard to re-establish it again.” 

If new volunteers do come forward, the plan would be to have a transition period where the older volunteers could induct and train the new volunteers to help. 

David would love to hear from anyone willing to help in the kitchen, to help befriending, entertaining, offering transport, with the shopping, with publicity and accounts or as a first aid officer.

If you could offer your time and help to save this valued community service please contact Rev David Austin on or 01603 469 112

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