Oundle Town Council’s first annual Community Award was presented at the Annual General Meeting in April. Nominations for the award are made by residents and then decided by the councillors. This year the Council recognised the support that Cathy and Kira Wenden have given to the local community over the years – “especially the huge effort they went to during the pandemic 2020-22, and most recently the sterling work collecting and delivering relief goods to help those displaced in Ukraine”.
Anyone who has ordered online will have met Cathy Wenden at their door delivering their parcels. She has been working for EVRi (formerly known as Hermes) for eight years. Her daughter joined EVRi two years ago, and together they worked straight through the pandemic lockdowns. While everyone else was sheltering in their homes, they were out making deliveries, keeping the economy running and making sure that people received their supplies.
Cathy and Kira have also been recognised for helping to recycle supermarket food waste. They collect leftover supermarket food that would otherwise get thrown away each evening from Tesco. Tesco’s partnership with the social enterprise OLIO allows people to request food nearing its expiry date for free. Cathy and Kira collect the yellow stickered items from Oundle’s Tesco at 8:30pm three times a week. The leftover food varies from a few loaves of bread to a mountain of sandwiches and fruit.
Users of the OLIO app then post requests to collect the food from them. There are four to nine people using the app each evening to make requests, depending on the quantity of food available.
Another initiative involving the collection of relief aid was spurred by the invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. The outbreak of war has a personal connection for them – Cathy’s grandmother was from Odessa. She married an English soldier and left Ukraine with him in 1945. Cathy still has cousins in Ukraine, who she said were fine.
Due to this connection, Cathy and Kira collected donations of items such as nappies, medical equipment, tinned food, and pet food from their customers. The effort was joined by children at Oundle Primary School, and by Helen Austin and Wendy Holly-Ross who helped to sort and box. In the end, they filled six transit vans full of goods to St Olga Ukrainian Catholic Church in Peterborough to be driven to Poland and Ukraine.