Words Amicia de Moubray Photographs Claire Elliott
Many local businesses and individuals have risen to the challenge of how to help during Covid. The George, a Shepherd Neame pub in Newnham, is supplying 1,000 meals a day this week to the NHS staff at Medway Hospital. ‘The hospital wanted to give the stretched staff a treat,’ says publican Dave Elliott. ‘It is a little thank you.’
Dave was approached by Medway Hospital on 11 January; the hospital had been following the pub on social media. Exactly one week later, he found himself driving a specially-hired refrigerated van, brimming with a selection of five choices of cold ‘bowl food’ including duck and hoisin, cucumber, spring onions and egg noodles, and smoked mackerel and potato salad with a chive mayonnaise. ‘The food had to be easy to eat quickly, as I imagine the staff don’t have much time to sit and eat.’ In other words, simple and tasty.
There have been lots of appreciative thank you letters from the NHS staff:
‘I would just like to say a big thank you for my delicious meal, which was delivered to our hospital today. It’s a lovely gesture.’
‘Just wanted to say thank you for the amazing food that was delivered to Medway hospital today. I’m a nurse in ICU and I took a box of the duck noodles home for my tea. Was very much appreciated and I can’t wait to come and try more food when lock down is over. Thank you again from a very tired broken nurse xx.’
Dave, his wife Claire, and their kitchen team prep the food from six to 10 every evening and are back in the kitchen the following morning at six. Four hours later, Dave is on the road delivering the food in environmentally-friendly boxes.
‘At the outset, one of our suppliers rang to check that our order was correct, as it was so much bigger than usual,’ says Dave.
Before becoming a publican, Dave worked for a social enterprise company assisting with conferences at the Guildhall in the City. He drew on this experience when he dreamt up the bowl food idea.
The couple are delighted to help the NHS. ‘We have given all the Medway hospital staff £5 vouchers to use at The George, once we are open again. We’re looking forward to meeting them and thanking them for their work,’ says Claire. Dave adds: ‘We are very grateful for the support of Shepherd Neame and all our regular suppliers – Bookers Wholesale, Holdsworth, Central Wholesale Produce and the Lazy Lobster. We are enjoying the challenge.’
Dave and Claire have also relaunched their shop (Faversham Life wrote about it in the first lockdown), open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 10am-1pm. It sells an assortment of kitchen essentials including eggs, butter, vegetables, bread from Lenham’s Homebake and delicious jams and chutneys such as gin and lemon marmalade by John’s Kitchen of Sittingbourne. Take out coffees and homemade soup are also available.
Popular in the village are The George’s own homemade scotch eggs and sausages, available on Saturdays. These must be preordered.
Demand for their takeaway meals continues to be popular. Full details on www.thegeorgeinnnewnham. Grocery deliveries and meals can be taken to Newnham residents unable to collect.
‘We are trying to help the village where and when we can.’
Three cheers for Claire, Dave and their team. They are veritable beacons of community-minded publicans.
Text: Amicia. Photographs: Claire Elliott