Tue, 02 Jun 2020
Hermitage Support Group is battling to help the village through the lockdown, with residents coming together to raise funds and awareness.
The group was officially launched in March, following the imposition of lockdown restrictions nationwide.
Its key organisers come from a wide range of professional and volunteering backgrounds.
Carolyn Purchase is a member of the Hermitage Parish Council, while Andy Murray is a governor at the village primary school and also a serving warrant officer in the British Army.
Jon Turner is a commissioned officer in the RAF.
A newsletter circulated by the Support Group states: "After Andy set up an email address, we went out on FB and trawled for volunteers, grouping them into areas and then put them in touch with each other.
"We sent out an initial mail flyer for them to deliver to catch every home in the parish.
"Our initial idea was to act as a prescription co-ordination and delivery service, as well as shopping for those who were isolated."
A total of 120 members have been recruited across the parish.
Demand for the prescription service was high, with volunteers now making 35 pick-ups from The Downland Practice in Chieveley every Friday.
However, the group's activities soon expanded.
With regular facilities closed, individual volunteers have operated pop-up libraries, as well as egg, vegetable and plant giveaways.
They also enlisted local baker Jane Staunton to deliver meals and savouries to vulnerable and elderly people, then frontline workers. Her cottage pie is said to have proven a particular favourite.
The support group has received donations from SSE and Newbury Building Society, among others.
Aid has often come through schemes intended to keep charities afloat through the pandemic.
Despite lockdown conditions impeding normal fundraising activity, a number of events have been staged in support of the Hermitage initiative.
This has included a 'front-lawn gig' by local musician Mike Hawthorne and his daughter Flossy.
Mr Turner has thrown himself into such community ventures, even completing a sponsored run dressed as Scooby-Doo.