Yesterday I went to the thanksgiving service for one of our Liberal Democrat members whom I first met about 10 years ago, Joyce Hayes. For nearly all that time she had been a reliable helper, doing a regular Focus delivery round and had been willing to help with other tasks, like fund-raisers and admin, when requested.
When Joyce’s neice Sarah had phoned me, out of the blue, at the start of the week the news she gave was sad, but not a complete shock. I had last seen Joyce this spring when she had recently come home after a stay in hospital, and she was unusually looking her 80+ years – frail and tired in a way I’d not seen her before, but still determined!
The service at the local parish church, where she had been a regular, was well-attended. Sarah read a lovely history of her aunt’s life – born in Littleover, married and working in Derby for many years before a period in South Wales and a return following her husband’s death ten years ago.
The real revelation was, however, the number of different organisations with which she had been involved in a practical capacity. Her life appeared to have many strands, each strand kept separate from the others. Another long term member of the church who is also a Lib Dem member and deliverer had never known he shared this second common connection with Joyce!
Aterwards it was good to chat with others over delicious sandwiches and scones in the church hall.
As so often at such events there was food left over. Sarah, and most other of Joyce’s family were not from Derby, but I asked whether they would be happy for me to take spare food to the Padley Centre, the local charity which supports homeless people. After a quick exchange the answer was an emphatic ‘Yes, Joyce would approve of that.’
I made a quick phonecall to Padley, who were delighted with my offer, and I fetched containers from home. I packed the food up to take into town later that afternoon on my bicycle.
This was not my planned afternoon, but a valuable one. Our society has a difficult relationship with food, and reverence is not often a word linked with it. Food is probably more easily obtainable in the UK now than at any other time in history, provided one has money. The place that food has in our societal expectations and traditions shows this has not always been the case. It therefore gave me satisfaction to have been able to round off this day of remembrance by giving this spare food a further chance to be used and not just disposed of as waste.