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We're the Hairy Bikers and we're riding to the rescue
of one of our great national culinary treasures -
-Meals on Wheels.
Oh, hello! Shepherds' pie as it should be shepherds' pie.
Since it began in World War 2, this great British institution
has never been a unified service, but at its height it delivered more than 34 million meals every year.
We all assume it's going to be there for our grandparents,
for our parents and us,
but will it?
Over recent years, deliveries have plummeted by over a third.
I lie in bed at night wondering what I'm going to do the next day.
No Meals on Wheels in this town!
Reviving it is very close to our hearts.
From the age of eight, I cooked for my poorly mam.
And me and my family rallied round to help my mam
when she was too ill to feed herself.
That little bit of kindness through food means such a massive amount.
In this series, our aim is to rally support...
-What would everybody do without the volunteers?
-The more the merrier.
The more the merrier.
..bring back great fresh food...
If we can't deliver these Meals on Wheels once a week
for the rest of our lives, then it'll be a poor do.
..and transform Meals on Wheels and its image into a lean, mean catering machine
fit to roll out right across the country.
The last thing we want is to be those who've done something for TV,
walked away, and it all falls apart.
Last time in Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire, we came face to face with a band of remarkable women.
God, they're going to be a handful.
-And got our kits off for the cause.
'Trying to start a brand new Meals on Wheels service from scratch.'
-Are you up for it?
It didn't always go according to plan...
-Don't cut that anymore.
-It looks like plop.
..but we proved with determination, drive and sheer exuberance...
..it's possible to achieve something extraordinary and deliver a difference.
-You can come every day.
I'm always glad to see somebody pop in.
In tonight's programme, we're heading back to Slaithwaite, getting in on the act...
Hold on, who's doing t'washing up?
..helping our ladies convert the neighbouring village to the cause.
-Can we do this?
..and in Elmbridge, Surrey, our personal mission to save
Meals on Wheels cranks up a gear.
-Hello, Si. How are you?
-..as we cook for the Duchess of Cornwall.
They cooked it to my recipe.
Then hit the capital to spread our message.
Meals are the highlights of our day.
It helps so many people.
OK, where's the pen?
In this series, we've been working with two Meals on Wheels groups,
revitalising a council-run service in Elmbridge, Surrey,
by injecting new life and delicious fresh menus,
and starting a brand new service from scratch
in Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire, run entirely by volunteers.
Nearly three months into our mission,
we're finding out how they're both getting on.
First stop, Slaithwaite.
CHEERING AND SQUEALING
'The energy and commitment our ladies have shown in rallying the whole village
'and starting a new free Meals on Wheels service from scratch is fantastic.'
-How's it going?
-What did you cook?
17 out of the 18 liked it.
-There's only one!
-But to make their fledgling service truly inspirational,
we think it should be constantly evolving.
And our sociable lasses have given us
an idea which we hope they'll be up for.
What we're going to do is keep this moving forward.
Now we reckon that you Slaithwaite folk are amongst the most sociable on the planet.
So how about we bring the people to the food,
so they can all eat together.
Have a bit of a beano as well.
-A bit of a social, a bit of a go as you please.
Get all the old folk together, have a good craic,
talk about the old days, talk about the future, maybe do this once a month.
It's something they could look forward to.
Shall we crack on, then?
If the ladies can pull it off and today's a success,
instead of delivering food to the old folk, once a month
they'll bring the old folk to the food.
# They're looking gorgeous. #
The brass band have lent us their practice hall for the social.
With only three hours to get it organised,
the ladies are rising to the challenge.
What I love about being in Slaithwaite is the enthusiasm.
Whenever something's mentioned, it's delivered tenfold.
It doesn't look right.
It's not symmetric. It looks like it's...
What's great about our ladies is that even with time ticking,
they're determined to get every detail perfect.
It's the seating, Jenny, you're wasting a table. It's wasting space.
See, nobody listens to me.
And it's this passion and drive to make their new service the best it can be that's so impressive.
-We've got paper to put down first.
-We're putting it on top afterwards.
One of our central philosophies
is about the power of good food to bring people together.
The reason that we want to do this big communal lunch
is to develop that sense of friendship and community.
Get everybody together, the ladies of Slaithwaite, the volunteers,
with the elderly people, it'll be this melting pot of ideas,
and who knows what will come to the surface.
And what better way to unite the good folk of Slaithwaite
than with traditional roast beef and Yorkshire puddings,
delicious home made gravy and all the trimmings.
It's just nice to know that our old folk are now being fed well.
And they're interacting again.
Not being left alone.
So I'm getting a lot more out of it personally than
I actually do from my own job.
With Pam and her team cooking up a storm in the Meals on Wheels
kitchen and things coming together at the brass band hall, everyone's getting into the swing of it.
With half an hour before lunch, the ladies who are usually out
delivering meals are instead picking up the old folk and bringing them to the social.
Most of the elderly people, some of them, the majority, don't get out.
And for them actually to come out, and to be given a free meal,
and entertainment, and to sit and talk to other people,
it's going to be fantastic for them. Absolutely fantastic.
Some of these people won't see anybody in a week.
So when they come here, they have somebody to talk to.
It's something that hasn't been done for a while.
It used to be done, now it's just coming up again, which is good.
The plan for today's lunch is to make it a real coming together
of the generations. So, as well as the 15 old folk,
our ladies, their children and some of their grandchildren,
will all be sitting down to eat.
It's a wonderful opportunity to get out into company.
Right on schedule, the cooks arrive with the food,
ready to start dishing up in the band hall's kitchen.
Wow! Hey, haven't you done well?
Hello, ladies, gentlemen, how are you?
The food's looking and smelling absolutely delicious.
How many children still to do?
-Is there anything that we can do?
-Heather's putting gravy on.
-Who's next now, who's next?
Roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, cabbage, carrots
and lots of home made gravy.
Listen. It's that murmur of chat and conversation.
There's forks and knives on plates, everybody's chatting,
having a nice time. It's normal life.
A good bit of craic going on. It's brilliant.
Today is really showing the positive power of volunteering.
All our ladies are doing this in their spare time,
cooking, organising and raising funds to pay for it.
-It's very nice.
I just enjoyed it.
-Our ladies are a group of normal women determined
to make a real difference in their community
by doing something extraordinary.
I think we're all proud of what we've achieved.
I don't think three weeks ago, we'd have thought we'd be able to pull this off.
It's good for the soul.
Helping other people is good for the soul.
Most places up and down the country have a hall like this up for grabs.
So with a bit of drive, holding a monthly social is something
everyone can do help their old folk.
It's only people that live by themselves that know what it's like.
You've nobody to say anything to at all. So, it's lovely.
We live on our own and we're getting company like this
and it makes all the difference. Makes all the difference.
We feel as though we belong to somebody then.
I'm enjoying all t'company.
I've met people that I haven't seen for a long, long time.
As well as giving the old folk a treat,
it's time for us and the volunteers to let our hair down.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Ladies and gentlemen,
-live from Miami Bulmarkham...
..myself, just recently returned from a tour on the cruise ships...
Si, the skins king...
..and on the organ, Rudolph the human juke box.
Now, we thought we'd have a proper sing song.
Have the time of your life.
I've got a lovely bunch...of coconuts.
#I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts
# There they are all standing in a row
# Big ones, small ones... #
'I don't know about anyone else,
'but I haven't enjoyed myself as much as this for years.'
# Oh, I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts
# Every ball you throw will make me rich. #
The social was a roaring success, but to have a long-term future
the new Meals on Wheels will need the support of the local community.
Have you heard about the new Meals on Wheels service?
Yes, we have, yeah, fantastic.
It's the essence of what community is.
-What do you think of the ladies who started Meals on Wheels?
In a word.
Local goodwill is crucial for fundraising,
signing up new volunteers and calling in favours
like getting the brass band to lend us the hall for yesterday's social.
But is everyone backing the ladies as much as the butcher?
I think it's a fantastic idea.
It's great to get communities like this together.
Just creating a great buzz I think in Slaithwaite. Yeah, definitely.
I've got grandparents that would probably be really grateful for something like that.
-My father was up with you at the band do last night.
-What did he think of his lunch?
-He thought it was marvellous.
I think it's a fantastic idea, giving them a hot luncheon meal.
Then on top of that they get a visit
so it's a bit of comfort and, you know, excitement for them, I think.
Most Meals on Wheels services charge for the food, but yesterday's social was free.
So this level of support is vital.
What did you think of the women that sorted this up?
Very brave taking on a challenge like this.
It's a show of love to one another.
is the main thing in life.
The buzz the ladies have created around the village bodes well for the future of the service.
But what do the people who really matter think?
Well, I enjoyed them all that I've had.
A good meal yesterday, but I were right miffed
when I couldn't sit by you.
You might be right good cooks, but you can't sing!
Hey! I wasn't singing! It was him!
Very friendly are the girls. The food's nice.
-So what more could you want?
Ten, ten, ten.
It's unequivocal -
Slaithwaites' new Meals on Wheels, delicious hot food prepared
and served with a bit of love,
is supported, is wanted,
and is very much appreciated.
We're so impressed by the ladies.
Every challenge we throw at them they pull off with panache.
We asked them to incorporate a monthly lunch club
into their normal Meals on Wheels service and they did it in style.
We've brought them to the neighbouring village of Marsden.
And we've got another job to spring on them.
Hello, girls. Hello. Come in, come in, gather round.
The ladies have got Meals on Wheels working brilliantly in Slaithwaite,
-but can they expand and spread the word?
-Now, girls, what do you do?
What do you business women of the Slaithwaite community do?
-Other than drinking gin!
What do you do?
You sell. Don't you?
-is what we want you to do.
We want you to pitch
and sell the idea
of a new meals-on-wheels service
-to the populace of Marsden.
Basically, it's your job to convince them that they can,
that they should, and that they will set up
their own Meals on Wheels service. Do you think you're up for it?
-The answer's definitely.
-You're up for it?
Marsden, three miles away, hasn't got a traditional Meals on Wheels.
Can our ladies persuade the locals to follow their lead and start one of their own?
If we're passionate about what we're doing, and I think we are,
then I think that that will catch on.
Part of the team start working on a convincing pitch,
explaining how they got Meals on Wheels off the ground in Slaithwaite
why it matters, and how it can be achieved in Marsden.
I would like to get some of the feelings of why we came together
in the first place and what we've got out of doing it.
If we get that passion across, I think people will be up for doing it.
The rest of the ladies hit the kitchen,
cooking up some tasty inducements to help get the Mardsen folk on side.
Pam? Pam, your diggers look quite golden.
But will Pam's delicious cakes be enough?
We'll not have a problem convincing the old folk - they'll be up for it.
It'll be trying to get people to give what we've given.
It's just trying to get them to give up their time.
Because they know each other well, they're playing to their strengths. That's brilliant,
that's good organisation.
Very quick, slick, concise, just doing it. It's brilliant.
It's very heartening. In terms of people working together as a team,
to the common good. By crikey, they could set an example to us all.
These ladies are our secret weapon in our Meals on Wheels mission.
The good folk of Marsden have responded to our call
and are turning out in droves.
Could you take a seat straight away for us?
'Being known from the telly has helped us do our bit,
'but can ordinary people convince other people
'to volunteer their time and join the cause?'
There's some seats here.
Thanks very much for coming this afternoon. We are a group of Slaithwaite businesswomen.
'The ladies immediately get right down to selling our vision
-'of a revitalised Meals on Wheels to the people of the Marsden.'
-Let's have some facts. Who's got some?
One million elderly people describe themselves as being very, very lonely.
In the next 20 years,
the population of over 65 year-olds in the Kirklees area will increase by 45%.
I've forgot what I'm saying so I'll just say who's doing the cooking!
They've got the audience's attention with the bigger picture,
now they're ramping up the emotion...
Do you know what? They have got so much to give.
..explaining what a difference Meals on Wheels has made to them
and to the old folk.
It's a feeling of satisfaction and achievement and helping other people.
We've had so much fun during the process.
It's bee great giving them good, wholesome, nutritious food. Their smiles have been massive.
What I've got out of it, and I mean this really sincerely,
is I feel like I've got my mum back.
Because I'm actually with people...
that give out as much as I give them.
After the passionate testimonies, we've been roped into
the ladies' presentation for a bit of light relief,
donning drag and taking to the stage as our future selves.
-Hello, it's Meals on Wheels.
Today you're having roast beef and Yorkshire pud.
And we're having home cooked scones.
Ay, ay, ay, ay, hold on.
Who's doing t'washing up?
Now we need to sign up a core group of volunteers who can take this on and rally the people of Marsden.
Just like the ladies did in Slaithwaite.
Would you put up your hand if you honestly feel that you could
make a difference to Marsden.
People of Marsden, if Slaithwaite can do it, you can do it!
Come on, let's have you. Well done.
'Brilliant! The ladies have really made a big impression,
'signing up the core group of volunteers they needed.
'Now they're setting about ramming home their advantage,
'aided by a bit of delicious bribery.'
You should come to us.
We have got all this information ready for you.
We have a rota set up for deliveries.
High tea could be an hour a week.
'They're working the room like nobody's business.'
We're also going to do recipes and methods so that this does kick off
then it's just like following a cook book.
The main thing that people want is just a word.
-Just to talk. Not so much that...
It's a great thing to do. It makes a massive difference to people,
and it's a small thing.
'Our ladies know it takes a shed load of drive, determination
'and commitment to start a new Meals on Wheels.
'And they done an amazing job convincing the Marsden lot to take on the challenge.'
-I can do that. I can contribute.
I'm not the best coo, but I'm sure there's a role for me somewhere.
It's only a few hours a week so I think anybody can fit that in.
It'll take a lot of get up and go. I think we need to find a figurehead.
-Just learn a lot from the Slaithwaite girls.
We've already got ten people on a list
that want to do this.
From that, their enthusiasm will spread to other people
and before they know it, they'll be in the situation we're in
and they will have their nucleus to set up their Meals on Wheels.
Which is fantastic.
This is all about communities coming together
to deliver a difference to their old folk.
It's something we can and should all do.
And we're immensely proud of our ladies
-and everything they've achieved.
-It's only when you talk to the people from Marsden
you realise how far that you lot have got on with it.
How far down the road you are.
But it's working here. It's fab.
Come on, Jules. Come on, Sally Ann.
We did it, we did it, we did it!
ALL CHANT: We did it! We did it! We did it!
-Right, who fancies a drink?
-Come on, come on!
Our personal mission to save Meals On Wheels is going great guns up north.
Now it's time to find out how the second group
we've been working with in Elmbridge, Surrey, are getting on.
They're both very different services. The Slaithwaite one
is run and funded entirely by volunteers.
But here in Elmbridge, the council provides
subsidised meals with a mixture of paid staff and volunteers,
and the budget is very tight.
-So that's frozen veg?
-It is, yeah.
'Over the past few months, we've been trialling our ideas
'to revitalise Elmbridge's Meals On Wheels,
'raising a whole new army of volunteers to help keep it afloat
'and transforming the food from frozen to fresh.'
-That looks like cardboard.
-I can't get beyond the artificial taste.
-It reminds me of when I was a kid and had cheap, instant soup.
I've never been one for cooking.
I've just never been into it, until I got here.
My husband said to me, when I got the job, "Why are you working there? You don't cook."
-We want you to go fresh.
-It'll be more work.
It was really bad. I said to Kim,
"I just feel sick, I don't want to do this. I want to go home."
But even with extra volunteers in the kitchen,
cooking our new fresh menus has been a struggle
on the super-tight Elmbridge budget of just £1.25 a head.
'Now it's crunch time for all the hard work we've put in here.
'We're heading to the council's head office
'to pick up Kim, the Meals on Wheels boss.'
'Today, she'll tell us if it's all been worthwhile.
'If our new fresh recipes are coming in on budget and the council can afford to keep them on the menu.'
-You ever been on a bike before?
-Be nice to me.
-Course we will!
-We'll be gentle.
-We'll be gentle. Listen, it's all fine.
'We're taking Kim to see what the old folk make of the new fresh food.
'Getting their support is half to battle won.'
-EVERYONE SAYS HELLO
-Very good to see you again, are you well?
It's good to see you. Good to see you, sir.
We're here because we're sending you out these fresh Meals on Wheels.
So, what I wanted to know was, if you had to mark them out of 10, what number would you give them?
Eight, no, say nine.
-Nine? That's good enough, isn't it?
-The way we're cooking them at the moment, would you like that to continue?
-I would miss it very much.
The nearest I can say, meals that mother makes.
-What a huge compliment that is.
-Good work. Keep it up.
I'm very pleased with what they're doing.
I get a nice little afters as well. Ooh, don't forget the afters.
I would put the standard, I suppose, at eight or nine.
We had the most gorgeous, er...
sort of pink blancmange with real strawberries in it.
That was delicious!
'For us, this is what it's all about -
'our old folk getting the delicious, hot, tasty food they deserve.'
Mr Phillips, how are you, sir? It's very good to see you again.
We have noticed a difference in the food.
Green vegetables, in particular, are very well done.
The herbs are there. In fact, I think it's a wonderful service.
So all in all, Mr Phillips, you're enjoying it, yes?
-If you had to rate them out of ten, what would you give them?
Ooh, about 11.
< So, I take it you'd like the fresh Meals on Wheels to continue?
-All I'm saying is that
we've been fortunate enough to meet a couple of diamond geezers here.
-That's the nicest thing anybody's ever said to me!
-That's really nice.
'We're definitely on to a winner with our new menus,
'but in these cash-strapped times, if the sums don't add up,
'there's no way the fresh meals can continue.'
'If we're not hitting the £1.25 a head budget,
'it's back to the tired old menus for Elmbridge's old folk.'
-Listen, your office has got a bit big.
-It has, hasn't it?
-Do you like it?
-It's lovely, innit?
We're just here to find out if what we've worked out in theory
is actually working out in practice.
-Or are we flogging a dead horse?
-Some meals have come in way over.
Way over? Right, OK.
But some of them have come in just under budget, so...
But, um, we are slightly over.
It's not major. And I think, if we can just tweak them
and as the girls get used to cooking them, it's going to be easier and I think we can do it.
-That's fantastic news.
-It's brilliant, brilliant.
As well as revamping the tired old menus, the second big issue
facing Elmbridge's Meals on Wheels we tackled was volunteer vacancies,
rallying a whole new generation of recruits.
-Where would you like your meal?
-In the kitchen.
Now we're on our way to see one of them - 23-year-old Grant.
When we first met him,
he was unemployed and really lacking in confidence.
But that's all changed.
Virtually, after just a few rounds of volunteering, I put it on my CV,
cos it's something different I've done, handed it into a job agency
and they seemed interested and, ever since, I've just been working.
Did you think volunteering has helped you?
That's what you were hoping the last time that we spoke?
Yeah. It has helped me with confidence.
It's obviously helped out my CV.
It's just helped me speak to people.
Honestly, man, you look like a different person.
I know you're all bibbed and tuckered for work, but you do.
-Congratulations on your job, man.
-Well done, well done.
-Cheers. It's such a relief.
-This is definitely a good pick up.
-I'll drink to that.
Brilliant! That's the power of volunteering for you.
'The third big issue facing Meals On Wheels was its tired, moth-eaten image.
'But we've given it a modern 21st-century makeover
'and now, we're taking it another step forward.
'We've come up with a plan to incorporate our new logo
'into a volunteer recruitment poster.'
-Oh, look at that!
Oh, it's going to be brilliant!
It's a bit of a moment this, isn't it?
The good thing is, Si, this is what Meals on Wheels has been lacking.
It needs this identity, so that when you're in Elmbridge,
you see that, you know it's Meals On Wheels, you've got a phone number
and, hopefully, you can volunteer and do your bit.
'It's crucial that new recruits continue signing up
'to help Elmbridge's Meals on Wheels and secure its future
'and we're hoping this is going to do the trick.'
-Look at that.
-"Deliver a difference" - I love that logo.
-Says it all in a line.
When you see it like that, you realise that Meals On Wheels does now have an identity,
and that's what's been lacking for 60 years.
'We think it looks great, but does it work?'
-What do you think of our poster?
-Yeah, it's pretty cool.
-Have a look at this, love.
-What do you think of that, our poster?
Yeah, it's bold, I like the help sign and everything. It's catchy.
-What does it say straight away?
-There's not enough people doing it.
-Will you volunteer?
-Thank you very much.
-Nice to meet you. Thank you.
We're hoping other services around the country will adopt our poster and new logo
to raise the profile of their local Meals on Wheels.
All the pieces are falling into place -
fresh menus, new volunteers, budget and image.
We are proud of what we've achieved in Elmbridge,
but the kitchen we've been working with is one of six in the borough.
Our job now is to convince the other five kitchens to bin their frozen ingredients,
so we deliver a difference to all Elmbridge's old folk.
In a couple of hours, all the Elmbridge Meals on Wheels teams
are going to be arriving here.
Now, it's our job this afternoon to fire them up with enthusiasm
for the new fresh image and fresh approach to Meals on Wheels.
But, as we discovered, change isn't always easy.
We're cooking meals that we love, we're cooking our ideal Meals On Wheels food
and, hopefully, it'll inspire the cooks and the assistants from all the Elmbridge centres
to cook food that they would want to eat.
And then, hopefully get to think what clients would really like.
People's idea of the image of Meals On Wheels' food,
and that perception of it, is pretty traditional, pretty boring.
But just cos you're old, doesn't mean to say
you've stop wanting those lovely moments of, "Oh, that was great!"
Oh, love this!
'The cooks and managers from across the borough are arriving.
'Our dream of fresh Meals On Wheels all over Elmbridge is
'in their hands, but it's not looking hopeful.'
We don't use fresh vegetables at the moment, no.
There's only two of us that are in the kitchen at one time.
We haven't got vegetable cooks, we haven't got pastry chefs.
We have to do the lot.
I am sceptical, I think, it may or may not work, unless of course
try it all across the centre, because each centre works differently in terms of staffing levels,
so I'm still not sure whether that will work.
-Ladies and gentleman.
We've worked hard with Julie and Lesley going over
to completely fresh food, devising recipes,
using fresh ingredients, not frozen, and producing them on budget.
What we'd like to do is to persuade you
to adopt this and to do the same in your kitchen.
SI HUMS A DRAMATIC TUNE
We're hoping the cooks will be inspired by tasting the dishes
we want to eat when we're old and grey.
We've got a package of recipes for them.
We've got proven concepts, we've got proven budgets.
So, almost, they can get this franchise free
and use this as a template. Anybody in the country could do this.
We could almost call it the Elmbridge Way.
Talk amongst yourselves, we're busy.
Listen, we're from the north, you don't get medium portions in the north.
Taste this, you won't want a medium portion.
First up is my cardamom chicken curry.
Not only is it delicious but it's very easy to prepare.
And, by the way, it takes about ten minutes to make.
It makes me feel good about myself.
It's food that the volunteers are going to be proud to deliver.
Next the cooks are trying my leek and onion pudding,
a dish from me childhood.
It looks like our nostalgic recipes are hitting the spot
but they're worried about the practicalities of our new menus.
We would need your help to get more volunteers because without two more volunteers, in our kitchens,
we wouldn't be able to do the prepping in time for the meals to be able to go out.
We've tried to develop a relationship with a local catering college
whereby part of the first-year syllabus they came and worked a day in the kitchens.
But also it'd be a pair of enthusiastic hands for the cook and the cook's assistant.
The feedback we've got from the students, it was ace,
right across Elmbridge Council.
We've done a massive push for volunteers,
so you just need to tap into that already existing system.
It really is that simple.
'With their questions answered, it's the moment of truth.
'By signing our pledge cards, these chefs and managers are committed
'to ditching frozen food and going fresh.'
So, you've signed up.
'Success! Every single centre's on board.'
'We've also prepared a Hairy Bikers Meals On Wheels Bible
'to help them on their way.'
We call this a legacy book, really. It's some recipes, ideas, some time plans and some costings.
The kitchens, if you'd like to take one you're very, very welcome.
We can do it in budget, I'm convinced we can do it in budget.
I'm committed to supporting you guys in going fresh.
What you do, what the cooks do in those kitchens is very,
very important because you deliver a difference.
You make a difference to people's lives.
-Thank you so very much for having us.
-Thank you for listening
and we sincerely hope you've gone away with a passion
and a fire in your belly that's going to make sure you go fresh.
You should, you can and we really do hope that you will.
They're going to have questions and be a bit worried about it
and a bit nervous but I think they'll do it.
I think they'll take it on board.
They'll want to ring Julie and Lesley tomorrow and have a little chat
but I'm pretty confident that they'll do it.
We've helped transform Elmbridge into a shinning beacon of what Meals On Wheels can and should be.
Now we're going to start bragging about it and get the message out.
So, we're throwing a celebration lunch.
We've invited Meals On Wheels' highest profile supporters
and unbelievably, she's accepted.
-Time to tell the gang.
-Do you know, you are doing great work here.
The kitchen is producing some wonderful food.
The volunteers are working perfectly.
I think it's about time you started to shout from the rooftops about it.
To do that we've enlisted the help of a very high profile individual.
What are you doing, Grace? LAUGHTER
This person is coming to Elmbridge tomorrow to speak with you all
about the wonderful difference that your Meals On Wheels service
is giving the elderly in this community.
-Really we want their seal of approval.
-Yeah, and that person is?
-Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall.
It's great, innit? We're dead excited!
-She's not going to want to eat our meals.
-Yes, she is.
Yes, she is because it's good food.
I tell you what, you can now say, after tomorrow, you've cooked for royalty.
Steady on, what, good Lord.
I'm nervous now.
Stunned at the minute and panicking about cooking for royalty.
-She might just like a salad. I dunno. Might she? I don't know.
-Great news, incredible news.
-A real coup, I think.
It's the big day and I can only imagine how nervous the cooks are.
They know we've got to get this right.
Her Royal Highness has a long-time interest in Meals On Wheels
and she's eager to find out what we've been up to.
This is it!
In just a few hours, Julie and Lesley are serving up the most important dishes of their lives.
Dining with the Duchess will be our dedicated, long-standing volunteers,
new recruits to the cause and some of those who receive Meals On Wheels.
But before Gladys, with her 18 years of voluntary service, can sit down to dine with royalty,
there's plenty to do. A big day today?
-Yes. Very big day.
-How are you doing?
Are you all right, how are you getting on, Gladys?
-Is everything all right?
-Are you excited?
I can't get excited yet. We've got all this lot to get ready, really.
This is it, big day! Oh, how are you doing, are you feeling all right?
-The thing is be proud of what you do.
You're good at it. I mean, you are the jewel in the crown in this kitchen.
-People are looking to you.
-You are the creme de la menthe.
Yes, you are the fairy on the cake.
A cherry on me topping.
And the gladiator. Go on, girl.
The pressure's on.
In less than three hours, not only has the kitchen got to cook its 40 regular meals,
but also a royal Meals On Wheels lunch for 18 guests.
Julie, did you ever think that when we turned up that first Monday morning,
-that three months down the line we'd be standing in the kitchen cooking for royalty?
-It's mad, innit?
What we're doing today is half a dozen dishes that have been going out on the round.
We're not changing them, we're not making them fancy. We're serving them. They are what they are.
But, hey, when we said, "shout from the rooftops", that's what we're going to do.
We're going to show off what this kitchen can do.
We're serving a beef stroganoff, a lemon chicken and a selection of great British puds.
All absolutely delicious and all on budget.
-Si, what happens if we put too much paprika in the stroganoff?
She's going to have a royal flush.
Alongside our dishes, there's one special addition.
The Duchess herself has donated a recipe in support of our campaign,
a fantastic fish pie. Today is its debut on the menu.
But even with a VIP coming for lunch, nothing can stop the team from turning out their
40 Meals On Wheels for the old folks waiting at home.
It'll be nice to meet her, anyway.
I was asked if I've met royalty before, but this is the first time.
I'm hoping it's... I think it'll be lovely.
We haven't had time to get excited. It's just been too busy, too hectic, worrying about the food.
I expect I will when she arrives.
My stomach's churning now. I think we'll be all right. I'm hoping so.
Today's guest list represents everything we love about Meals On Wheels.
There's our longstanding volunteers, with over 134 years of dedicated service between them.
New recruits like Grant and our students from the catering college and, of course,
the reason traditional Meals On Wheels exists, the people that rely on it.
Having the Duchess here to extol the virtues of Meals On Wheels is absolutely marvellous.
Let's hope it gets a lot of publicity.
I think the Duchess of Cornwall's visit will help us all
and it'll encourage other people to come and join us.
Here, Kingy, is that what you call Duchess potatoes?
We'd better go and change.
I am not meeting royalty in this.
The Duchess's visit is causing a stir.
Just what we wanted to help spread the good word of Meals On Wheels.
I'm a little bit nervous now. I was fine this morning but now I'm a little bit nervous. I'm fine.
It just opens a whole new plethora of possibilities for us.
We've very grateful. She's giving her hour like everybody else. Good stuff.
Right on cue, the heavens have opened.
After everyone's hard work, here we go.
-The mayor and mayoress of Elmbridge.
-We're most grateful.
-It's going to help us enormously.
-It's a great pleasure.
-Nice to meet you.
-Hello, lovely to see you.
-Hello! Lovely to see you.
-We keep on meeting like this.
-Nice to see you.
-Thank you for coming.
-Have you been cooking away?
-Yours was a cracker!
-Yeah, great recipe!
-Am I going to get to taste it?
-You absolutely are.
-It's just the time to start getting hungry now.
-It's just about lunch.
'First stop on our royal tour - the kitchen.'
-Gladys has been volunteering for a long time, haven't you?
-Yes, 18 years.
-Hello. Ooh! Pleased to meet you anyway.
-You've been volunteering for 18 years?
What would everybody do without the volunteers?
-Well, the more the merrier.
-Ma'am, if the truth be known, Gladys is in charge of everything.
-Do you rule the roost?
-I doubt it.
-This is Lesley, the Queen of custard.
-Pleased to meet you.
-You're the custard lady?
So are you a pretty good cook?
-The answer is yes. She's brilliant.
-You've got the thumbs-up here.
Julie's the full-time cook here.
So do they tell you afterwards whether they think it's good?
-Yes, we do get some feedback.
It's a wonderful service
and it's having that daily contact with people.
It's a fantastic service.
It's a community spirit thing, isn't it,
everyone pulling together and helping out.
'It's the moment of truth.
'What will our royal guest make of our attempt at her fish pie?'
I'm going to have a bit of... a bit of my recipe.
The cooked it to my recipe and we're going to see how good it is.
We've managed to cook fresh for about £1.23-£1.25, and that's a main course and a pudding.
Ma'am, it's the table there.
-Cheers! Don't be too quick!
'Lunch is served. It is time for our old folk and volunteers to meet the Duchess.
-It's my recipe.
-If you've got anything to complain about, complain to me.
-Seems to be going very well.
-It is. The food looks great, you know,
and I think the duchess is enjoying it.
I got involved, because I wanted to give something back.
-A pleasure to meet you.
-Hello. So what made you all volunteer?
I've been out of work for months and it's something I've wanted to do.
-And are you enjoying doing it?
-Yeah. I have actually found a job now.
-So what are you going to do now?
-Just do it at weekends.
-My mum's also starting up with me. I may do rounds with her.
-I just love it.
-So are you a great cook?
-You'll have to ask them.
There are people worse off than oneself and, if you can help them, that's wonderful.
-Yes, it is giving back.
'The team at Elmbridge have got the support they deserve for the brilliant work they do...'
-It's absolutely wonderful.
'..delivering a vital culinary lifeline to the borough's old folk 365 days a year.
'It's time to start making sure everybody knows about it.'
I think the wonderful thing is, we've certainly got
the Royal seal of approval for the work we do with Meals On Wheels.
-And she gets it. She gets what we're doing.
And that's just massive! So pleased.
-And with that profile, it would be criminal...
..if we don't push this forward.
'We're on a roll. Now we're taking our campaign to the capital
'and we've got something special up our sleeves.
Headlines in the press during the last 12 months make pretty depressing reading.
Meals On Wheels to be axed, the future of Meals On Wheels is uncertain,
fears for the future of Meals On Wheels!
It's a dire situation, but we think we've got the answer.
In Elmbridge, we've proved that local people
will rally round and volunteer
to give an already existing Meals On Wheels service a future.
And in Slaithwaite, we've got a group of very strong-minded women
to start a Meals On Wheels service from scratch and they are delivering
a real difference to the communities.
So, Meals On Wheels CAN be saved!
And it's our job to get the message out there.
With our big red bus, we're going to take our mission to the capital.
'Today's all about spreading the word
'and getting our Meals On Wheels battle bus seen all over town.'
To help us on our mission, we've brought our secret weapons -
the ladies from Slaithwaite!
Plus Kim, Gladys and the rest of the Elmbridge crew.
Hello, my darling!
Right! Hello, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome! It's the North meets South.
It's kind of Meals On Wheels, North-South unity.
This is quite a biggie, now, OK?
We all know that Meals On Wheels needs saving.
We all know that it's a fantastic service.
What today is about is getting that message out.
That's what we're here for.
Now you're both united by a vibrant new logo.
Both truly delivering a difference
and both have proved that Meals On Wheels is worth saving
for this generation and for all the generations to come.
Crack on, the gang. Let's go!
First up, we're hitting the airwaves
to reach the people of London as they are eating their brekkies.
Throughout the day, we're going to be asking everybody to join the Duchess
in donating their recipes to back our campaign.
And this is the perfect place to start.
Nick Ferrari is one of the top DJs in London,
with over half a million listeners. So we're hoping for a good response.
Up and down the country,
Meals On Wheels services are seriously under threat.
Or they're being cut. We are on a personal mission to save it.
However it happened, we have lost 11 million meals.
Is this local authorities? Is this charities or a mix?
It's a mixture. Some is done by local authority.
Some is done by volunteers.
Some indeed is being done by people getting together, you know, in a pub.
So you want my listeners to call you to support you, or to share their experience?
We want their desert island meal.
We want the listeners to send a recipe or tell us what
they would love when they are old for the Meals On Wheels dinner.
It's not necessarily cottage pie and soggy carrots, you know.
If you have had Meals On Wheels or a meal on wheels, what was it like?
More importantly, give us your recipes.
Get those recipes to the lads.
And here is a bit of an exciting addition to it all -
you will be like the Duchess of Cornwall. Tell me about that.
We asked the Duchess of Cornwall, could she give us her ideal Meals On Wheels supper,
and she did better than that, she came down to see us.
She did. It was brilliant.
She worked very closely with her elderly mum,
who suffered from various conditions, so she is very motivated by this.
The one you're about to eat... Serve it up.
It's the Duchess of Cornwall's fish pie. By Royal appointment.
How will you know if this is a success?
I'll try this while you do that.
-Well, we will know if it is a success if...
-Oh, man, that's good.
-Good, isn't it?
-I can see what Charles saw in her.
It is absolutely fantastic. Right, on we go.
Get your heads round some of the recipes coming in.
For the Hairy Bikers,
Sylvia suggests crumbed pork chop with Somerset cider and cheddar sauce,
cauliflower cheese, green beans and garlic roasted potatoes.
..in Bexley says, "Can anything beat steak and chips
"and a nice piece of Black Forest Gateau afterwards?"
Boys, thanks very much for coming in.
James O'Brien's the other side of the news on LBC.
I'm back tomorrow morning from 7am. Meantime, stay safe.
We are getting the bus on the road and there is just time to check our e-mails
to see who's pledged their support so far.
Girls. Listen up, listen up.
Hey, we've got recipes coming in from the great and the good here.
We got our friend and yours, Adrian Chiles.
-He's got a Serbian bean stew.
-Ooh, that sounds nice.
Hey, we got Amanda Holden here as well.
In the house with our Mand. Ooh, look, we've got Jeremy Clarkson.
-Yeah, Jeremy Clarkson.
-What's he say?
Beans on toast by the looks of things, but it is all right.
-And on that bombshell...
-Exactly. It's good, this.
Just off Parliament Square,
our bus is picking up some key players from the world of charity,
including Age UK and Meals On Wheels founders, the Women's Royal Voluntary Service.
Hi. Hi, I'm Helena. Good to meet you.
We want them to back our campaign
and help spread our ideas all over the country.
-What do you think of our sign, our logo?
It's good, isn't it?
We're relying on the gang from Slaithwaite and Elmbridge
to explain our mission and get these important bodies on board.
Two important things for older people is good food and company.
Meals On Wheels does both those things.
Both of those together are what makes that service important.
It very much stops things like people becoming isolated in their communities,
so we are interested in that.
It promotes independence, keeps people in their own homes,
which is very important too.
And there's a good link between generations.
If you get younger people volunteering with older people, that link is really good.
I think we have found that volunteering,
especially with Meals On Wheels, and elderly people, can be really good fun.
It's rewarding for the individuals as well.
And it's the contact and the actual energy that you get from it.
We are living longer, so that is a success story, but I don't think
we've caught up with what that means,
and that we actually need more of these sorts of services and support
than we ever needed before.
So will the experts get behind our campaign to save Meals On Wheels?
The message we've got to get across should be
that everybody should have access to a meal on a daily basis.
It should be part of the care package
and it should be considered as part of care. That everybody is fed nutritionally.
What you actually think of our logo?
I think it's quite modern and it's impressive.
It's got a great, great feel about it.
I like it, I think it's good.
The pot thing's fun, but the slogan is good.
It does make a difference.
We will certainly look to how we can promote that logo.
It is so important that there is a kind of identity for that sort of thing.
-Thank you very much.
-Not at all.
For our stop near Trafalgar Square, we are going all glam
and inviting some big-name celebs on board.
And Aggie MacKenzie.
Why is Meals On Wheels important to you?
As my dad's dementia increased, when people would ring the bell,
he became afraid.
And there would always be this lovely calm voice, saying,
Calling him by his name.
You know, "Let me in, I've got some hot food for you."
And they were just wonderful.
There will be more people needing Meals On Wheels,
we're an expanding population,
more and more single-person households,
and we're worried that if we don't do something,
in five years, we might have lost the Meals On Wheels.
It's not other people - we're going to be these old people, aren't we?
The young ones forget this.
For me, producing food for somebody else,
it's an act of love.
And if you don't have that, you lose quite a lot in life.
This is Grace and Gladys, who are volunteers.
-And Grant, our newest volunteer, and our youngest.
Ooh, I'd like to see Grant turning up.
And how pleased are people to see you coming round?
They're just so grateful. So grateful.
And I would never have thought of doing it.
-Yeah, it's a two-way thing, isn't it?
-They do you good.
The volunteers, they are little angels, actually,
because without them, there are many things that couldn't be done.
To volunteer, it helps so many people,
and you can go away with your head held high.
I've been a volunteer for 18 years.
-Is it 18 years in the same sort of area?
-Yes. At the same centre.
-Guess how old?
-I could give you another 20 years on that.
-Well, you're not 82.
-You're not 86.
What's your face cream?
For us, Meals On Wheels isn't just about eating for survival.
It's delivering joy through food.
So we've prepared a snazzy snack for our celebs.
-I want to know if I can eat it.
-It's a whoopie pie.
-A whoopie pie.
-We've been making whoopie all day yesterday.
Get it down you, girl.
-They're going down all right.
-Yeah, they are.
-Thank goodness for that.
It's like being tested by your headmaster, isn't it?
-You looked so worried then.
"Deliver a difference". I think it works.
That is kind of saying friendly, isn't it?
You see that big pot there and you know it's full of goodness
and it's "deliver a difference with Meals On Wheels".
I mean, it says it all, doesn't it?
Will our visitors from the worlds of celebrity, politics and food
be joining our campaign and donating their desert island dishes?
What would be your perfect Meals On Wheels meal?
-Parmigiana with courgette.
-Arlene's energy salad.
-Thank you very much.
-Bread and butter pudding.
-Have you got a recipe?
Everyone in Scotland, you know, loves Scotch broth.
This is the manifesto.
-Spread the word, spread the gospel of Meals On Wheels.
-If you support it,
Twitter it, Facebook it and talk about it,
we would be eternally grateful.
Save Meals On Wheels for grannies and grandads everywhere,
our parents and our future selves. Right, OK, where's the pen?
Can we rely on your support?
-Fully, fully, fully.
-We value that.
-I am there.
Not only can you count on my support,
but if you want me to deliver a few,
I've got some time off this summer and it's a very rare thing.
-Brilliant, thank you very much.
-I'll go round.
Today's gone incredibly well.
Everybody's done so well and I think the people that came
were impressed by what they saw.
I think again, there was that lack of knowledge to what was going on
and we've opened people's eyes.
Raised the questions, raised the answers.
That's what we need, that's what we've done
and it has been an absolutely huge success.
But it would be very arrogant of us to claim any kind of victory,
because the true victory is being done by people like Grace,
people like Glad, they have been doing it for donkey's years.
And it's for Meals On Wheels.
We've spread our message all over the capital.
Are you ready?
-What do you think of today?
But it's been quite a journey to get here.
Four months ago, we set off on a personal mission,
riding to the rescue of our great British culinary lifeline - Meals On Wheels.
Days get very long when you're on your own.
We set about tackling the big issues facing the service today,
binned tired menus and frozen food in favour of fantastic fresh dishes
cooked with a bit of love.
-Pastry was delicious.
Recruiting an army of volunteers all dedicated to the Meals On Wheels cause.
What would everybody do without the volunteers?
And giving the service its first-ever logo to help spread the good word
all over the country.
Meals On Wheels, deliver a difference.
We've shown that whatever the situation in your town or city,
if the community pulls together,
we can change the lives of all our older people.
It's just nice to know that our old folk are now being fed well.
Delivering a difference to thousands of people's lives.
-Meals On Wheels.
Throughout it all, we haven't been alone.
Every single step of the way,
our fantastic volunteers have stood by our side.
-That's absolutely wonderful.
-Come here, man, give us a kiss.
What we've really got out of it is the camaraderie
between everybody, that includes the north and the south,
and also the actual relationships we have with the recipients.
Hopefully this is the start of things to come.
It's going to be inspirational enough for people to turn round
and say, "We're going to do this."
The Hairy Bikers are the Hairy Bikers.
I think they're wonderful. I think I'm in love.
You get from them the passion.
It just gives you that little bit more determination to carry on doing the good work.
We know that Meals On Wheels is brilliant.
And we want it to be around for grans and grandads for years to come.
But if we don't act now, we are in danger of losing it completely.
Now we've all got a part to play in this.
Whether it's from protecting existing Meals On Wheels services
or starting up completely new ones from scratch.
From the man in the street to the people at the top,
we think we've got the support of everybody we've met.
And we sincerely hope that we've pricked the conscience
of a whole new generation of volunteers.
If you want to get involved, act now.
Because, you know, there's plenty you can do.
All the information you need is on our website.
Plus a few tasty recipes too.
The future of Meals On Wheels depends on you.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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