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COVID-19 RESPONSE: Newbury Racecourse adds kitchens, staff & more to meet meals on wheels demand for vulnerable elderly in West Berkshire

L-R: Chris Boulton (Greenham Trust), Richard Smith (Newbury Racecourse), James Wilcox (Age Concern), Michael Spence (Swift Couriers), Angela Dudley (Fair Close Centre), Mike Payne (Newbury Racecourse chef)L-R: Chris Boulton (Greenham Trust), Richard Smith (Newbury Racecourse), James Wilcox (Age Concern), Michael Spence (Swift Couriers), Angela Dudley (Fair Close Centre), Mike Payne (Newbury Racecourse chef)Just because there is no racing, Newbury Racecourse have not stopped helping their neighbours.  They have launched a partnership with Age Concern Newbury & District and Swift Couriers to feed the most vulnerable elderly in West Berkshire during the COVID-19 crisis.


Age Concern Newbury & District have delivered meals on wheels in the district for over 50 years, and have developed a safe solution, scrutinised by Healthwatch West Berkshire in consultation with West Berkshire Council Adult Social Care and Public Health, to scale up their operation to help more vulnerable elderly people by working with Newbury Racecourse and Swift Couriers.

Newbury Racecourse are pledging their support to the initiative by providing a Meals on Wheels hub in a contained and dedicated area, using the available kitchens and chefs to support the escalating number of vulnerable people who require the service, as well as donating £1,000 worth of food from their existing supplies and waiving any fees associated with the use of the site.

Chefs from the Fair Close Centre, run by Age Concern Newbury & District, and Newbury Racecourse have joined forces to prepare hot nutritious meals up to seven days a week.

Swift Couriers are making available technology and support to optimise delivery routes and have also pledged to provide vans to deliver snack packs to outlying areas to help the most vulnerable people in the Borough. Efforts will support and be supported by the emergency Coronavirus appeal which the Greenham Trust has recently launched.

The Meals on Wheels service will continue to be a paid for service, with orders made over the phone. The lunchtime service will be extended to 7-days a week as soon as possible with phased planning to meet the growing demand.


James Wilcox is Chief Executive of Age Concern Newbury & District:  “The Fair Close Centre currently provides a very popular Meals on Wheels service to many vulnerable individuals, but we have seen this number more than double in the last two weeks."

"It is imperative that we provide proper safeguarding for all those entitled to the service as demand increases. All our volunteer drivers are DBS checked and they will also be receiving bespoke training developed by Healthwatch."

"Wherever possible, we will provide hot nutritious meals. We know for many, this will be the only meal they eat in 24hrs. We will also support with snack packs for the evening."

“Equally important is direct contact over the phone with individuals to also find out their current wellbeing. We are so grateful to Swift Couriers for their distribution and logistics expertise and support in processing the increased numbers.

“Newbury Racecourse will enable us to scale up the operation with the use of their kitchens, chef and staff to meet the demand. It is amazing to see the response of so many businesses, charities and volunteers in our area.”


Julian Thick is Chief Executive of Newbury Racecourse, Julian Thick:  “There is a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety around the current COVID-19 pandemic. We want to play our part as much as we possibly can for the most vulnerable groups within our local community and have the resource and extensive space here at the racecourse to allow us to assist with a coordinated and safe response to the unprecedented situation we all find ourselves in."

“Working closely with the team at Age Concern Newbury & District, and Swift Couriers as well as the  West Berkshire CCG, hopefully we can ease some of the pressure on the current services across the borough and provide much larger quantities of meals to the most vulnerable. Huge thanks must go to all my own team, many of whom have volunteered to help with the relief efforts."


Adrian Smith is Group Managing Director for Swift Couriers: “These are unprecedented times and therefore we must all pull together to look after those most vulnerable. At Swift Couriers, we are committed to working with all parties to be able to scale-up this operation and provide the relevant expertise and technologies where possible and draw from our greatest asset, our people and look forward to working alongside the team from Age Concern and Newbury Racecourse over the coming weeks.”

Those in the Newbury area wishing to obtain the service and who are over 65 can call 01635 40488 to order meals.

And for those able to support these efforts, the Greenham Trust has also launched a public appeal on its charitable funding platform, The Good Exchange, and pledged to match up to £100,000 of this funding for donations received via the platform.

For every £1 raised, Greenham Trust will match £1 to support local charities that require additional help during these unprecedented times and will go to help those charities and volunteer organisations supporting those most urgently in need.  To donate money or apply for a grant, visit The Good Exchange. For further information on West Berkshire’s response to the coronavirus, please visit this website. 



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