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‘I’m here to help’ - Meet the Norfolk landlady feeding her community

PUBLISHED: 18:07 06 November 2020 | UPDATED: 18:31 06 November 2020

Julie Oatham, owner of The Butchers Arms in East Ruston, pictured outside the pub holding a box of goods ready to sell to the local community. Picture: Danielle Booden

Julie Oatham, owner of The Butchers Arms in East Ruston, pictured outside the pub holding a box of goods ready to sell to the local community. Picture: Danielle Booden

Danielle Booden/Archant 2020

A landlady who has been making takeaway cooked dinners throughout the pandemic for her community has said she will keep cooking for those who need it.

Puddings all packaged up ready to be delivered as part of The Butchers Arms in East Ruston's delivery and collection service. Picture: Danielle BoodenPuddings all packaged up ready to be delivered as part of The Butchers Arms in East Ruston's delivery and collection service. Picture: Danielle Booden

Julie Oatham, the landlady of The Butcher’s Arms in East Ruston, first decided start offering takeaway roasts in March when lockdown meant many would not be able to enjoy a Sunday lunch out on Mothers Day.

Now, seven months later she is still going strong, spending 14-hours a day in the kitchen to almost single-handedly produce 50-60 hot dinners a day.

Running a near “military operation”, Mrs Oatham, supported by her family and a team of volunteer drivers, has been delivering meals and offering pick-ups to people in East Runton, Sheringham and Mundesley since March.

Mrs Oatham, who has been landlady of The Butcher’s Arms for 29 years, said: “I do a lot of the cooking myself, I have volunteers come in on a Sunday to help me and to deliver, my husband and sister help at weekends too.

Hands being sanitised at The Butchers Arms in East Ruston ready for preparing deliveries. Picture: Danielle BoodenHands being sanitised at The Butchers Arms in East Ruston ready for preparing deliveries. Picture: Danielle Booden

“We’ve been doing a lot of deliveries to people who still can’t get out. We’re just doing it to help anyone in the community who can’t get a hot meal, it’s for anybody who needs it,” she said.

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Each week the pub advertises different menus through its Facebook page which people can then pre-order and arrange to collect or have delivered to their home in a socially distanced way.

Mrs Oatham said she could not run the scheme without her “brilliant” delivery drivers, who were all volunteers and worked full time.

Volunteer Mark, who works for Feline Taxis, delivering a Sunday roast from The Butchers Arms to a customer. Picture: Danielle BoodenVolunteer Mark, who works for Feline Taxis, delivering a Sunday roast from The Butchers Arms to a customer. Picture: Danielle Booden

She said the scheme had helped to put the pub back in touch with the community: “It’s taken something like this to find the people that need help, but they’ve always been there.

“I think I’m helping more people in the community [by doing this].”

• Our Here to Help campaign is highlighting the people who are doing their bit to help during the coronavirus lockdown - and asking more people to take part.

The campaign, in association with Norfolk County Council, is urging people to do something to help their neighbours, friends, village, town or city, and then to tell us so we can shout about it.

Julie Oatham, owner of The Butchers Arms in East Ruston, preparing meal orders ready for collection and delivery. Picture: Danielle BoodenJulie Oatham, owner of The Butchers Arms in East Ruston, preparing meal orders ready for collection and delivery. Picture: Danielle Booden

Let us know what you are doing by emailing Donna-Louise Bishop on donna-louise.bishop@archant.co.uk


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