A request was made to the Benevolent Lodge in Teignmouth, Devonshire, by Councillor David Matthews who was looking for premises with a kitchen large enough to cook Sunday lunches for over 100 people. When David Purdy, Director of Allsop & Pitts and a Freemason, became aware of the situation he contacted the Lodge building committee and when they heard the request was being made to supply meals for the most vulnerable people in the Teignbridge area, they immediately agreed
David’s 16-year-old son Bailey came up with the idea after his grandmother became isolated in her own home due to the coronavirus outbreak and he decided to cook a meal and take it to her, leaving it on the doorstep so as to keep a safe distance. He then asked his dad if he could spend part of his own savings and purchase enough food to make meals for some more local people in a similar position to his grandmother. David thought it was such a good idea that he decided to try and develop it further and after he spoke to local traders and obtained some turkeys and fresh vegetables free of charge, he set to work.
David Matthews, who is chairman of the Finance and General Purpose’s Committee and a past Mayor of Teignmouth, worked alongside his son and in the first week they cooked Sunday dinners for 56 people in the Teignmouth area. After an anonymous donor gave them £2,000, they expanded their aims and on 5th April 2020 increased not only the amount of dinners to 106, but also the area they covered, and with the help of 14 volunteer delivery drivers they are now aiming to cover the whole of the Teignbridge area.
On Easter Sunday the number rose to 176 meals which were sent out to people as far away as Exminster, West Ogwell and Illsington; quite an undertaking for two untrained cooks and they have vowed to continue their work until the money runs out or more funding is found. David has opened a “Go Fund Me" page and has already received some donations, but would like more money to enable them to keep going whilst so many vulnerable people are in lockdown.
Upon hearing of the wonderful work David and Bailey were doing the Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Freemasons, Ian Kingsbury, immediately sent them a cheque for £500, and this will be accompanied by another cheque from the Provincial Grand Master of the Devonshire Mark Master Masons Peter Balsom to enable them to continue for longer.
Bailey and David, neither of who have any previous experience in cooking apart from basic health and hygiene training, are pushing their own boundaries by cooking everything from fresh, and they are ably assisted by Karen Ryding who has volunteered to pack the meals in heat proof bags, sanitise and distribute them to the team of delivery drivers whilst keeping a safe distance from all concerned.
The Benevolent Lodge Masonic Hall can be found in Hollands Road, Teignmouth, which is ideally situated to perform the task. The facilities made available to David were ideal for his requirements and the members of the Benevolent Lodge No. 303 were only too happy to open their doors, especially as helping those less fortunate than themselves forms the main ethos of Freemasonry.