Community lunch leader
335. George Geraghty
George Geraghty, an 86 year old community volunteer who has spent the last 28 years running a weekly Pot Luck Lunch in his local village, providing thousands of meals for anyone is his local community and a hub for people to meet and get to know each other has been named a Point of Light by Prime Minister David Cameron.
George, a retired aviation engineer from Halstock in Somerset, set up the lunch club with his wife in 1988 to provide an affordable weekly meal for anyone from toddlers to the elderly in the local community hall. Since his wife Jean sadly passed away in 1996 George has been running lunches on his own. In the 28 years that George has run the club, thousands of meals have been served and currently 40 volunteers work with George to provide a healthy meal every week during school term time. Thanks to George and the team, the lunch club is at the heart of the community and serves around 50 meals a week.
George and Jean also helped to raise money in the 1980’s to build Halstock’s village hall after Halstock School, the main venue for the Pot Luck Lunch, closed. The Hall, opened in 1988, is run by the village hall committee and as well as the weekly lunch, hosts many different activities for the villagers including fitness activities and is a community venue for events such as weddings and christenings.
The Pot Luck Lunch is a fantastic opportunity for older residents who may be isolated or lonely to get out once a week and catch up with their neighbours. Those who are too unwell to join the lunch can also be visited by one of the volunteers and have friends take their meals back to them at home, providing another point of contact they would otherwise not have.
As well as the weekly lunches open to the village and surrounding area, twice a year at Christmas and in the summer, George and his team also organises a special buffet for 75 people to reunite old friends and celebrate key moments. The costs of food are funded through the meals, which only cost £3.50 and the remainder of the money goes towards sustaining the community hall.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“George’s simple idea to create a weekly opportunity for people in Halstock to come together to enjoy lunch and get to know each other has become a cornerstone of the local community. Together with his team of dedicated volunteers George’s lunches have helped to create a strong, supportive community in Halstock and I’m delighted to make him the UK’s 335th Point of Light.”
George said: It is an unexpected honour to receive the Points of light award. My motivation has always been to follow Jean’s wish to keep the community vibrant at a friendly and sociable occasion. Our work continued until after Jean’s death, when I joined a cooking team so that Pot Luck could continue to function with the same ideals. Over the years there have been times when it has been difficult to maintain continuity and I feel privileged that I have been involved through thick and thin, enabling Pot Luck to continue into the future.
MP for West Dorset, Oliver Letwin said:
“This is exactly the sort of quiet, local social action that really makes a difference to the quality of people’s lives. The Big Society is composed of a multitude of small-scale activities – and it is right to celebrate Mr Geraghty’s part in that. In West Dorset, we are proud of him.”