SELFLESS volunteers are making sure a community lunch club that has been helping the elderly in Botley for more than four decades continues to thrive.

Jackie Warner and Viv Smith took over running the Thursday fortnightly service for over 60s two years ago after previous organisers decided it was time to retire.

Mrs Warner said she felt compelled to get involved due to her mother’s work with the group decades before.

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The 68-year-old said: “She was there from almost the beginning and I used to work from home before I retired so I was able to help out quite a lot as well. I’ve had a connection to it for a long time.”

She added: “It is something we are really proud of and with loneliness being such a big problem we try to encourage those who live alone to come.

“They love seeing each other and we have around 45 people who come for a two course meal.”

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In the past the club operated from Seacourt Hall but with recent building works it is currently based in the former Grant Thornton Building at the West Way centre.

Mrs Warner said the group was begun by a councillor called Jean Cole as a drop in event and gradually evolved to its current format over time.

In 2015 another key figure in the club’s history, Marina Bennett, who ran the Botley lunch club for four decades, scooped the prize for Long-term Volunteer of the Year at the first Best of Botley Awards.

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Mrs Warner said the current team of seven volunteers were committed to continuing this legacy and were pleased to be recognised with a five-star score when inspectors from Oxford City Council health team visited the group on February 21.

The grandmother-of-three said receiving the top rating was ‘incredibly important’ and added: “We lost a star last year and we were most miffed.

“We were determined to improve. Every fortnight we try to keep our standards as high as possible.”

She said the volunteers also did their best to make things exciting for the diners, with themed meals around holidays and special occasions.

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She added: “To mark the centenary of the start and end of the First World War we did meals based on what food was available at the time.

“We always do a Christmas meal, with an appearance by Santa, which goes down well too.”

Each two-course meal is just £4 and favourites include sausage and mash, casseroles and pies, with sponge desserts, fruit and ice cream, and pavlovas for afters.

For more information or to volunteer contact