A century of service

Two long-serving volunteers are celebrating more than a century of serving up sustenance with Meals on Wheels.

Best Friends and Red Cross volunteers Janet Clarke and Bev Lucas from Blenheim first started with Meals on Wheels in 1969.

And the duo is still delivering meals as they get set to celebrate a milestone anniversary later this year, with 101 years of service between them.

They have seen a lot of changes over the years.

“In the early days we saw some very sad cases,” Janet says. “People now are taken care of better.”

Red Cross’s Meals on Wheels service help people all around New Zealand by providing them with a healthy meal every day.

Volunteers deliver around 620,000 hot meals a year, or nearly 12,000 every week.

Janet remembers her first day – it was the 19th of September 1969. “I was escorted by one of the Miss Bruns, who were sisters,” she says.

“In the days when we started, we had big metal cans with a hot plate in it – customers had to have a plate ready.”

Bev says customers often forgot their warmed plate, and they had some fussy eaters too.

“We used to get people who would say, I don’t like peas, and we told them to eat around them,” she laughs. “We’ve had a fair experience.
It has been a very pleasurable thing – we’ve met an awful lot of people.”

Janet recalls delivering a meal to one Mrs Weaver following her hundredth birthday.

“She was so proud to show us her letter from the queen and the governor general,” she says.

And in all their time delivering meals, they’ve always done it together.

“She got me into all sorts of things – choir was one of them,” says Bev.

Janet says she has been a part of the Choral Society for 54 years.

“I introduced Janet to city shopping,” Bev says.

Holidays down the Sounds, choir and watching their children play sport – the pair have made a lifetime of memories following their chance meeting taking children home from school.

“I got her a fridge magnet that says, ‘you will always be my friend because you know too much.”

The pair have life memberships with Red Cross, recognising the many roles they have had with the organisation. Both are humble about their achievements and long-service, saying they did it for the pleasure of volunteering.

“We must be the longest serving Meals on Wheels drivers,” Bev says.

Their one bugbear – dogs that jump.

“Old ladies have thin skin,” says Janet. “We scratch easily.”

Zoe Osgood, 13, has been supported by the local community during her bone cancer battle in Christchurch. Photo: Supplied.

Café’s coffee kindness

A café’s bid to help a Blenheim girl dealing with bone cancer has raised more than $5000.

Zoe Osgood, 13, is in Christchurch undergoing treatment for osteosarcoma.

Friends and family in Marlborough have been raising money to help take the financial pressure off her family while they support Zoe.

Ritual Café in Blenheim held a Zoe Week last week, raising $5301. For every coffee sold, staff donated a dollar.

An instore donations box raised $1736 which boss Julie McDonald then doubled.

“It’s been the most outstanding week for the team at Ritual Café.

“I’m hoping that this money will help Zoe and her family in some way.

“Knowing the family, I know that they will be totally grateful to everyone who supported this amazing cause.

All the very best Zoe – you got this girl.”

A Givealittle page has been set up to help, with $39,994 raised as of Monday morning.

Zoe;s mum Michelle Osgood says the community support has been amazing.

“It is truly an amazing gesture. We are absolutely been away.”

Visit givealittle.co.nz to donate by searching under Zoe Osgood.

Zoe Osgood, 13, has been supported by the local community during her bone cancer battle in Christchurch. Photo: Supplied.

Community rallies after shock diagnosis

A teenager getting physio for what she thought was a sports injury is set for surgery after doctors discovered bone cancer.

Zoe Osgood, 13, from Blenheim was complaining about a sore knee when she got the shock diagnosis after an MRI scan.

Now her friends and family are rallying to raise money for the family so they can spend as much time together as possible as Zoe begins treatment.

Mum Michelle Osgood, who is manager at The Wine Station in Blenheim, says the family are very grateful for the support.

“We are so humbled by the response from the community.

“It has been overwhelming.

“We really feel like we have a village behind us. It’s a sensational feeling. The messages from people really give us strength, especially on a tough day.”

Just before lockdown, Zoe, a pupil at Marlborough Girls’ College, was limping and complaining of a sore knee.

Following physio, the bubbly youngster was given an MRI and diagnosed with Osteosarcoma.

“We assumed it was a sports injury and she had been receiving physio until 10 July when she got an MRI. That was Friday. On Monday our wonderful GP told us to come into the surgery and they had found a 2cm tumour called Osteosarcoma.

“It’s hard to believe, even now,” Michelle says.

Now in week two of treatment, Zoe has just finished her first round of chemotherapy. She faces between 9 and 12 months of further treatment including two cycles of chemotherapy, surgery, then more chemo.

She is in isolation now to protect her struggling immune system, Michelle says.

“She is very tired but coping incredibly. We take one day at a time.

“The five-week chemo cycles are something no child should have to go through however she is very positive in herself and in true “Zoe style” dealing with this in her quiet stoic way. She is one tough cookie.”

Dad Phil and brother Lucas are in Blenheim, hoping to get to Christchurch as much as they can. Zoe and Michelle are dividing their time between Ronald McDonald House and the hospital.

“It is particularly hard to not be here apparently – just waiting to hear how Zoe is…It’s no easier being here, you feel just as useless,” Michelle says.

The family also hope to make it back to Blenheim for a Shave Off fundraiser at Biddy Kate’s Café & Bar on 29 August.

Organised by family friend Donna Tupouto’a, there will be live music on the night and raffles. Entry is $20.

Blenheim’s Ritual Café is holding a Zoe Week between 10 and 16 August, donating $1 dollar for every cup of coffee they sell to hep the family concentrate on getting Zoe well again.

The support means a lot, says Michelle.

“This is a blip in our lives which we will overcome with the help of everyone there in the Boom.”

To donate through Givealittle visit givealittle.co.nz/cause/help-13-year-old-zoe-kick-cancers-arse.