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Christmas porridge surprise at the Newbury Weekly News

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Paper's office received a massive delivery of porridge for its Over 80s' Parcel Fund

The Newbury Weekly News Over 80s' Parcel Fund was literally bowled over this year when nearly 20,000 boxes of porridge were delivered in error to our offices.

The Magic Porridge Pot sprang to mind, but some quick-thinking and generous help from our delivery partner Swift turned the cereal crisis into a breakfast bonanza for local charities and schools.

When the original Two Ts Fund was started by third NWN editor Frank Stillman in the late 1800s, it delivered either a packet of tea or a tin of tobacco to elderly people in Newbury leading up to Christmas – depending, of course, on whether they were a lady or gentleman.

More than 100 years later, what is now known as the NWN Over 80s' Parcel Fund has nearly 2,000 boxes of porridge kindly donated each year by Frank's great grandson James Stillman, who works at PepsiCo Ltd in Reading.

The porridge usually arrives at Sainsbury's, but this year, due to Covid-19, we were preparing for it to arrive at the NWN offices in Faraday Road instead.

Somewhat surprised by a large removal van arriving full of porridge, we watched as it was unloaded.

There was porridge, porridge and more porridge and it was only as it was being unloaded we realised PepsiCo hadn't just very kindly donated us 1,900 boxes of 500gm, but 1,900 boxes of 10 boxes, which left us with 19,000 boxes of porridge.

Swift Logistics Group came straight to the rescue and offered to distribute the remaining 16,000 packets of porridge to places that would appreciate it, leading up to what will be a very difficult Christmas for many.

Pallets were taken to the West Berks Foodbank, Newbury Community Resource Centre and FareShare Thames Valley.

Hundreds of boxes have also been given to local schools, including Kennet, Trinity, St John the Evangelist Infant and Nursery, St Nicolas Junior, Falkland Primary, Enborne Primary and St Joseph's Primary.

So, this year the Newbury Weekly News Over 80s' Parcel Fund has not only given pleasure to our elderly recipients in West Berkshire, but also warmed the hearts and stomachs of many struggling people and families after what has certainly been a year we will all remember.

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