A year like no other: the Kettering volunteers who have given 20,000 meals to those in need
An incredible effort by the Corona Kitchen team
On March 25 last year, just two days after the first national lockdown began, a group of Kettering volunteers served their first hot meals to those in need.
Named the 'Corona Kitchen', they aimed to plug the gap left by the enforced closure of soup kitchens and places where those in need could get help.
On their first day they served 15 meals, and none of them thought it would still be in place now.
But fast forward 12 months to today, which marks one year since the start of Covid restrictions, and not only are they still going, but they're about to serve up their 20,000th food package.
Organiser Frank Rodgers said: "Everybody thought it would be over by the end of the summer, and then it was September, and then we've just carried on and carried on.
"We have been lucky that we have always had volunteers and there's actually been so many there's been a waiting list."
Corona Kitchen was for many months based at the Eden Centre in Montagu Street, where hot meals and sandwiches were handed out outside.
But the volunteers recently had to move out because of refurbishment work, and moved to Corn Market Hall in London Road at the end of February.
With support from Kettering Council, they won grants from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to cover the costs of the move and a new oven, fridge and freezer.
And they are now averaging about 96 meals a day to support those left vulnerable by the Covid crisis.
Frank said: "It's been eye-opening for us. Every week we have had someone new turn up who has just heard of us, or who has been made redundant, or where money is just tight."
The volunteers have also been sponsored by local restaurants The Wama's Lounge, Exotic Dining and Tong Thai, who have all cooked their meals for a day and served up hot food such as kebabs or curry and rice.
And the Corona Kitchen team are planning to carry on for as long as they are needed, backed by grants and food donations from places including Kings Cliffe Bakery, Tesco in London Road, Morrisons in Kettering and wholesalers Booker, as well as receiving 150kg of food every week through the Fareshare scheme.
Frank added: "We just cannot thank everyone enough.
"People have stepped up to the mark and it's been a massive community effort with good teamwork."