When lockdown was announced Tom Kerridge and his team went into overdrive, keeping staff engaged and the business afloat by cooking heat-at-home meals for the group’s Marlow retail site The Butcher’s Tap.
During this period, Kerridge spotted a tweet from nearby hospital Wexham Park asking for help feeding their team.
Staff were working 18 hours a day and by the time they’d finish there shifts supermarket shelves were empty with many nurses and doctors sustaining themselves by way of hospital vending machines.
The hospital was looking for people to drop things off - such as tins of beans and dried pasta - but Kerridge and team thought they could do better than that.
He setup a GoFundMe page and within the first few days it had raised £75,000 (it went on to raise £180,000).
Thus Meals From Marlow was born, supporting NHS staff, key workers, and people in need in the Marlow area.
“We cooked over 80,000 meals during lockdown,” says Kerridge, who gave over the space that’s usually used by his events catering company Lush with his staff working on a voluntary basis to cook and deliver 1,250 meals a day.
“It kept our staff active and kept them feeling positive, which really helped them to come back to work. The reaction to Meals from Marlow has been incredible. We’ve raised money but we’ve also had a lot of help from suppliers and producers.”
The huge amount of ingredients donated means left Kerridge and team with enough funds to establish Meals From Marlow as a fully-fledged charity that supports people in need in the Marlow area.
"I can’t think of another sector that’s shown itself to be more positive or forward thinking. It’s been one of the hardest hit but it’s also been one of the most kindest and caring."
"Hospitality is a way of life - people do the job because they want to look after people. The response has been incredible - from little places doing meals for people that live round the corner to much larger initiatives."
"Even though the future of people’s own businesses are uncertain, they still want to help.
Community Heroes is a video series that is part of The Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards. This video was sponsored by headline partner Estrella Damm.