In a year that has tested people to the limit, not least in the hospitality sector where restaurants were forced to close for prolonged periods of time, people have shown not only incredible resilience but compassion on a truly remarkable scale. And no one more so than Tom Kerridge who, despite feeling the full force of the pandemic across the restaurant and pub group, put his time to good use by helping create the invaluable charity Meals From Marlow.
When lockdown was announced Kerridge and his team went into overdrive, keeping staff engaged and the business afloat by cooking heat-at-home meals for the group’s Marlow retail site The Butcher’s Tap. During this period, Kerridge spotted a tweet from nearby hospital Wexham Park asking for help feeding their team.
Staff were working 18 hours a day and by the time they’d finish their shifts supermarket shelves were empty with many nurses and doctors sustaining themselves by way of hospital vending machines. The hospital was looking for people to drop things off – such as tins of beans and dried pasta – but Kerridge and team thought they could do better than that.
He setup a GoFundMe page and within the first few days it had raised £75,000 (it went on to raise £180,000). Thus Meals From Marlow was born, supporting NHS staff, key workers, and people in need in the Marlow area.
Such has been its success that Meals From Marlow has since provided more than 100,000 meals for people who need them and has since become a permanent charity. The aim is to continue to deliver 750 meals a week, and the charity is now looking to raise more funds to expand the project further.
Kerridge has also joined up with footballer Marcus Rashford to launch the Full Time campaign attempting to end child poverty. Among other things he put together a book of 52 recipes suitable for the whole family and hosted a cook-along video on Instagram every Sunday demonstrating how to cook them.
Kerridge says: “I can’t think of another sector that’s shown itself to be more positive or forward thinking. It’s been one of the hardest hit, but it’s also been one of the most kindest and caring.” We can’t think of another person more deserving of this award.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is sponsored by