Meals on Wheels at Newbury Racecourse
L-R Chris Boulton CEO Greenham Trust, Richard Smith Head of Catering at Newbury Racecourse, James Wilcox Chief Executive at AGE Concern, Michael Spencer Group Director at Swift, Angela Dudley Fairclose Day centre and Mike Payne – Chef at Newbury Racecourse

Newbury Racecourse has launched a community effort using its extensive space as well as in-house resource for varying relief efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and will waive any site fees associated with its use during the period.

Newbury Racecourse has launched a partnership with Age Concern Newbury & District and Swift Couriers, to feed the most vulnerable elderly in West Berkshire during the COVID-19 crisis. Age Concern Newbury & District who have delivered meals on wheels in the district for over 50 years,  have  developed a safe solution scrutinised by Healthwatch West Berkshire in consultation with West Berkshire Council Adult Social Care and Public Health that will be scaled up by working with Newbury Racecourse and Swift.

The racecourse are pledging their support to the initiative by providing a Meals on Wheels hub in a contained and dedicated area of the site, using the available kitchens, chefs and volunteers to support the escalating number of vulnerable people who require the service, as well as donating £1,000 worth of food from their existing supplies.

Chief Executive of Age Concern Newbury & District, James Wilcox said:

“The Fair Close Centre currently provides a very popular Meals on Wheels service to many vulnerable individuals, but we have seen this number more than double in the last two weeks. It is imperative that we provide proper safeguarding for all those entitled to the service as demand increases. All our volunteer drivers are DBS checked and they will also be receiving bespoke training developed by Healthwatch. Wherever possible, we will provide hot nutritious meals. We know for many, this will be the only meal they eat in 24hrs. We will also support with snack packs for the evening.

 “Newbury Racecourse will enable us to scale up the operation with the use of their kitchens, chef and staff to meet the growing demand. It is amazing to see the response of so many businesses, charities and volunteers in our area.”

Earlier this week, it was announced that a specially adapted and contained area at the Eastern entrance of the racecourse will be used by the NHS West Berkshire CCG in partnership with local GPs as one of two local walk-in Primary Care Hubs in the area, set up for local people who are showing early symptoms of Coronavirus but don’t need immediate hospital treatment. They will only be available to patients who have already gone through a structured medical triage system. They will ease the burden on other healthcare facilities and free up hospital doctors to deal with more urgent coronavirus cases. Other contained areas around the site will continue to be used for the purpose of NHS Blood Donation sessions during this period.

Chief Executive of Newbury Racecourse, Julian Thick, commented:

“There is a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety around current COVID-19 pandemic. We want to play our part as much as we possibly can for the most vulnerable groups within our local community and we are fortunate to have a lot of space and resource to allow us to assist with a coordinated and safe response to the unprecedented situation we all find ourselves in. We have waived all fees for the use of the site during this period.

“Working closely with the team at Age Concern Newbury & District, Swift Couriers as well as the NHS West Berkshire CCG, hopefully we can ease some of the pressure on the current services across the borough and provide much needed meals to the most vulnerable. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all the staff at the racecourse, many of whom are volunteering their services.”

The Rocking Horse Nursery continues to remain open, providing childcare for a number of children whose parents are key workers in the local area. The children have been busy supporting the NHSNightingale Appeal, providing colourful pictures of rainbows to thank the incredible NHS staff. The pictures are being digitally posted across the Newbury Racecourse social platforms.