GOOD DEED: Randolph Community Centre manager John Bogle is organising free weekly lunches for elderly and vulnerable people in Evenwood
GOOD DEED: Randolph Community Centre manager John Bogle is organising free weekly lunches for elderly and vulnerable people in Evenwood

A GAUNLESS Valley venue manager, who took up his role at the height of the first coronavirus lockdown, is planning a menu of free weekly meals for the elderly and vulnerable during the second lockdown.
John Bogle had to “hit the ground running” when he took over management of Evenwood’s Randolph Community Centre in April – a time when it was closed and preparations had to be
made to prepare for its re-opening.
A former sales manager for an electrical wholesaler, Mr Bogle said: “There was everything to learn because there was no formal handover. I had to try to get everything prepared for being open.
“I was going around and seeing how it should be done – everyone was doing it differently.”
His efforts proved successful and groups began to return as restrictions were eased – these included weekly meetings of the village’s history society and events, such as bingo, put on by Evenwood and Ramshaw Community Association.
Mr Bogle said: “The good thing about the hall is that it is light and airy and we have fire doors, so we could put in one-way systems and use most of the building.”
He also got the community cafe up and running, which was a lifeline for people who had been stuck at home for months on end.
He said: “One of them told me, ‘if it wasn’t for you, I would be sat in my living-room looking at the walls’.”
Last week, however, everything was been put on hold again when a new national lockdown was announced.
He said: “I’ve had groups booked in and no sooner had I booked them they have cancelled. I had a fitness group come in and a support group who have been put on hold because we don’t know what is going on.”
Now through funding from the Randolph Foundation Trust the centre is aiming to provide vital community support during the lockdown.
Barbara Nicholson, from the trust, said: “We had some money and we wanted to do something but we didn’t know what. It is basically John’s idea to provide the meals free – there is no catch, it is just something we wanted to do.”
The meals will be offered for deliver by a volunteer driver, or for collection, each Friday between for six weeks between November 13 and December 18.
Meals include a main and a dessert.
Ms Nicholson, who is also chairwoman of Evenwood Parish Council, said there would be a variety of traditional homemade meals such as fish and chips, bangers and mash, and mince and dumplings.
She added: “On December 18 it is going to be a bit more of a Christmas dinner.”
Also while in the lockdown Mr Bogle, a qualified joiner, is planning to use his skills to carry out some maintenance at the centre.
People who know of any elderly or vulnerable people who would benefit from the free weekly meal scheme is urged to contact Mr Bogle on 01388 835588.