A COMMUNITY food drive had started in Didcot after a chef’s late husband encouraged her to cook for others before he died.

Widow Jane Ord, who has lived in Great Western Park for about 11 years, wanted to start volunteering after retiring from working at a medical centre.

Her husband John suggested she took on a volunteering role revolving cooking, so she came up with the idea for Didcot Community Kitchen, an initiative which provides free meals for those in need.

Herald Series: Mocky Khan and Jane OrdMocky Khan and Jane Ord

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However, Mrs Ord had to put the idea on hold after her husband died after a cardiac arrest in November last year.

After some encouragement from Mocky Khan, leader of Didcot Town Council, she finally opened the kitchen at King Alfred Drive Community Centre last month.

“After John died I thought, ‘I can’t do this,’” said Mrs Ord. “But you have to do something to keep going. Mocky sent me a text in January saying ‘Come on, let’s do this.’

“I’ve always wanted to do some volunteering and John suggested I do something with cooking as that’s what I love to do.

Herald Series: Mocky Khan and Jane OrdMocky Khan and Jane Ord

“I googled and saw these kinds of community kitchens popping up everywhere. There are some brilliants ones in big cities as there’s a big need for them whether that’s financial reasons or loneliness.

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“I then I had to find somewhere to do it. I went to several places but everyone said no. In the end, Mocky, who was Mayor at the time, offered the use of his centre.”

Mr Khan, who runs centre, said: “It’s a place for people to volunteer. The beauty of this is it’s a place to come and eat and a great place to meet other people.”

The community kitchen offers a free homemade meal every week from meatballs to a pesto tart on Fridays from 12pm to 3pm.

Herald Series: Homemade meals are served every FridayHomemade meals are served every Friday

A team of about ten volunteers also offer cakes, biscuits and sweets for dessert. Mr Khan added: “To give Jane a break from the cooking, I’ll do a curry day.”

The food used for the meals at the community kitchen comes from the Oxfordshire Food Hub.

“It takes up a lot of time,” said Mrs Ord. “But it’s a new thing to focus on. I’ve been cooking my whole life and I like making up my own recipes.

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Herald Series:

“John suggested it because on Thursdays when we ran out of food, I’d open the fridge and think, ‘What can I make with these ingredients?’

“I hope that people will come along and enjoy it and get to know each other.”


Read more from this author

This story was written by Gee Harland, she joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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