Ruddington Rallies Around Rashford

Big hearted Ruddington businesses, community groups and individuals are backing the appeal by footballer Marcus Rashford to provide food during the half term break for all children who’re entitled to free school meals.

It comes after a Commons bid to extend free school meal vouchers to holidays during the COVID-19 pandemic was rejected by MPs. The 22 year-old Manchester United star then stepped in again to make his new plea for help. Earlier this year, Rashford was awarded an MBE following his campaign to allow 1.3 million children in England to claim free lunch vouchers during the summer holidays – after which the Government changed its policy.

Despite financially challenging times for the retailers themselves, many businesses have already stepped forward to ensure every youngster will still be able to get a proper lunch over this half term. In our village these include The Cottage Hotel, The White Horse, Ruddington Fish Bar and The Black Cat Café.

The Cottage Hotel’s owner Sue Martin posted the notice below on its social media:

She says: “The idea to get involved came from my Executive Head Chef, Lee. He has been following Marcus Rashford’s campaign very closely and the idea was born out of that. As everybody knows, hospitality is currently facing impossible trading conditions. As a team we know many, many people who’ve lost their jobs as a result of the current restrictions, and there will be many more. As a team, we believe it’s only right to do what we can to support those who are struggling to feed their families through no fault of their own.”

Sue continues: “I am incredibly proud of the amazing people I work with and the way they are looking out for others at a time when our industry is suffering most. I know there are many other businesses who are offering support for families in similar ways. Our initiative is intended to support those who live in our community here in Ruddington.”

White Horse landlord Andy Hunt says: “We are absolutely disgusted by the news that MPs voted against giving children free meals in the October half term. All this when they’ve just approved a £3k pay rise for MPs. We would be more than happy to provide a meal or food. This has really touched a nerve and we need to do something!” As well as free kids lunches for village families in need, Andy is also offering his pub as a drop-off point for provisions which his team can then deliver to the local food bank and schools.

Ruddington Fish Bar owner Demetrios Lawton is also backing Rashford’s appeal: “During these difficult and trying times many people are struggling to make ends meet and this is having a knock on affect on our children. Tragically our government decided to vote AGAINST helping our children with meals during half term and holidays.” His takeaway has stepped in to offer a hot meal for any child who receives a free school meal during this half term between 12.00-2.00pm, Monday to Friday.

Demetris adds: “All you need to do is provide verification that you are in receipt of free school meals (no purchase necessary) and your child can have a small sausage or fish cake and a cone sized chips on us. When times get tough we stick together!”

Even though he’s only starting his tenure at The Black Cat Café on Monday, new owner Michael Gregson is also keen to help out: “We will be offering a kids packed lunch, to include a sandwich, jam, cheese or ham, cup cake, piece of fruit and a small bottle of water.” Proof of eligibility for free school meals will be required.

The Headteacher of St Peter’s Junior School in Ruddington, Michael Bradley, has written this letter to Rushcliffe MP Ruth Edwards – criticising her decision to vote with the Government against providing free school meals for eligible youngsters over the holidays:-

Meantime, Louise Third of the NG11 Foodbank committee is reminding villagers that their local charity is available to support any individual or family struggling to put food on the table. She says: “The current crisis has exposed the fragility of our incomes and savings; that’s why we expect many more households to need the Foodbank in the coming months.”

Volunteers sort donations at the NG11 Foodbank

Louise explains: “We work on a voucher system. This makes sure the donations are targeted and we use our resources wisely.” So, how do you get a voucher? “We now have four contacts in the village: Ruddington Medical Centre, Andrew Buchanan (St Peter’s Vicarage), Sam Hackett (Ruddington Baptist Church) and Simon Rose (Ruddington Methodist Church). Alternatively, you can call Wendy White, the NG11 Foodbank Manager, direct on 07538 916 757.”

Residents are reassured that all enquiries are handled sensitively and confidentially: “We make a note of the numbers of adults and children in the household, whether they need cleaning products, toiletries, baby products, and even pet food. Vouchers and parcels are then sorted and made ready for collection from the Foodbank” says Louise.

Donations can be left in the designated areas in the Co-op (below) and Sainsbury’s Local stores in Ruddington. Financial donations can be made directly to NG11 Foodbank via by selecting the NG11 Foodbank option at the top. Not only that, but the Foodbank is currently benefitting from Co-op customer funding every time they shop.

Volunteer Mark Pinks collects donations from Ruddington Co-op’s NG11 Foodbank basket.

Gwen Eyre, Co-op Member Pioneer for Clifton and Ruddington says: “I’m so pleased the Ruddington Food Store is supporting the NG11 Foodbank in these challenging times. As one of our local community causes, the foodbank received a pay-out from the Co-op of £1,280 in April and will receive a second instalment in November.”

This generosity isn’t restricted to businesses and community groups. Resident Holly Law contacted us to say: “There will be a food box left outside of my house every day during the school holidays from 12pm. Pasta, tins, potatoes, cereal, fresh fruit & veg, a loaf of bread. Help yourself. Please do not feel embarrassed, I’ve been there too.”  Holly’s address is 26b Wilford Road.

Whilst Ruddington businesses, community groups and individuals are all stepping up to help, following Marcus Rashford’s appeal, there’s no word yet about any assistance or funding being offered by our local Councils.*

*There’s now an update >>HERE<<.

{Marcus Rashford image courtesy of, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons}

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