St Michael’s Lunch Club Louise Heffernan

The monthly Lunch Club at St Michael’s Church was founded by Jane Cadogan and Jane Duce following the fitting of a new kitchen in 2008/2009. It seemed to them that such a won- derful space should be utilised to the full; they recognised its potential for providing lunches and opportunities for socialising for the Abingdon community. So the idea was born and monthly lunches have been of- fered ever since.

On the last Wednesday of each month, Jane and Jane prepare a two course meal plus teas and coffees with an em- phasis on traditional favourites such as cot- tage pie, salmon, gam- mon with pineapple and sausage and mash (the runaway favourite). Special dietary needs or individual tastes are catered for on request. Special occasions are marked appropriately, for instance Burns Night in January or Christmas lunch with carols in November. The cost of the lunch is £5.50 – quite remarkable value. Diners are asked to ring to book a place to assist with quantity con- trol, but there is always plenty of food and sec- onds are always available. The cooking skills of the two chefs are very much appreciated by the Lunch Club guests who inevitably leave singing the praises of Jane and Jane and their hospitality.

The Club provides a place where people of all ages (though the average age is quite mature) can go to meet with old friends and to make new ones. Given the problems of loneliness and isola- tion in the elderly community, this aspect of the Lunch Club is perhaps the most important. To

advertise the club, fliers were circulated in retire- ment homes, Abingdon Community Hospital and church halls and periodically this is repeated, while word-of-mouth remains the best form of promotion. Of those attending only roughly 25% are church members. Jane and Jane are pleased to provide this service to Abingdon folk generally, so bringing people into the Church environment without it necessarily being an obvious out- reach activity.

Both Janes have taken Food Hygiene courses; the club is registered with the Vale as a Lunch Club and on its last inspection received 5 stars, for which many thanks must also go to Brenda Merriman who faithfully cleans the kitchen and church room each week.

Jane Cadogan and Jane Duce cooking lunch

The club is supported by a regular team of helpers who help with setting up and washing up, though the arrival of a dish- washer in 2011 helped

with this last quite considerably. Jane and Jane are very grateful for the practical support they receive from St Michael’s Church members and for donations of various useful items such as a hostess trolley or a gift from Christ’s Hospital which enabled them to buy more chairs.

Jane and Jane both enjoy the monthly lunch club sessions very much as do their guests who organ- ise their own raffle each time. A great deal of fun is had by all. Most importantly all those eating the lunches have a chance to socialise and chat, to eat tasty hot meals prepared carefully for them and to enjoy the warmth of the two Janes’ hospi- tality.

February 2018

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