Tue, 13 Oct 2020
"The Tea and Tobacco Fund this year beat all records"… "No 99 was one of the happiest households in the Newbury district on Christmas Day".
If you had been receiving a Newbury Weekly News food parcel 100 years ago, it would have contained either a tin of tea or tobacco and every year since the launch of the Tea and Tobacco Fund in 1897, the NWN has been helping West Berkshire residents bring some Christmas cheer into the lives of their older neighbours.
The fund was set up by a former editor called Frank Stillman, where the aim was to give a Christmas gift of tobacco and tea to some of Newbury's oldest residents, many of whom were in the workhouses that used to exist in the town.
Times have changed enormously since the parcel fund began – the invention of motor cars, computers and mobile phones which many of us can't manage without any more and this year is certainly a year that will never be forgotten.
Despite the additional challenges we are facing due to Covid-19 this year, the Over 80s' Parcel Fund is still going ahead and was launched by Chris Boulton on Kennet Radio last Friday, a different launch to most years, bearing in mind the social distancing.
The parcels will go out to anyone aged 80 or over, living in Newbury, Thatcham or Hungerford who we have been given the names for and last year the community delivered more than 2,000 parcels for which we have to raise over £18,000.
The distribution is a job in itself, for which we rely on the help of many businesses and volunteers in Newbury, Thatcham and Hungerford.
This Christmas, because of all the restrictions in place, the parcels will be a little different to most years, but due to so much kindness, the Over 80s' Parcel Fund is still happening to ensure all our oldest citizens are not forgotten during the festive period.
Many of us are so busy rushing round that we don't realise that there are many elderly people without families around them who spend most of the Christmas break alone.
The parcels have never been means tested and for so many it is the knock on the door that can be the main event that they look forward to during the festive season.
Fundraising is so much more difficult this year and thanks to Greenham Trust and The Good Exchange we are able to receive matched funding for any companies or personal donations received.
If you would like to contribute/donate to the Over 80s' Parcel Fund via The Good Exchange go to https://bit.ly/36BaCiH and any donations will be very much appreciated.
To add the name of a person over the age of 80 who lives in Newbury Hungerford or Thatcham to our list, or to remove a name of someone who no longer requires a parcel, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the name, address and date of birth.
To keep abreast of the latest news, see the Newbury Weekly News each week until Christmas.
The parcel fund has been running now for more than 100 years – long may it continue!