Shropshire Star

Treasured Shropshire parish hall plays host to Christmas feast

A beloved Shropshire parish hall played host to a festive feast for lunch clubbers - and the generous attendees have put their hands in their pockets to help the hall's future endeavours.

Gabby Franklin and her crack team of helpers who put on a Christmas lunch in Cleobury Mortimer

Retired headteacher Gabby Franklin was the queen of the kitchen for the latest lunch club event at Cleobury Mortimer Parish Hall.

It goes ahead in the second and fourth weeks of each month, and this week the group were treated to a Christmas lunch with all the trimmings.

Gabby, a 79-year-old retired headteacher, was assisted on Tuesday by hardworking helpers Carole Sharrock, Robert Hodge, Pam Edwards and Sandra Ozols.

Robert Hodge was among the helpers

They served up an appropriately festive feast of two meats and trimmings, all in the seasonally decorated parish hall.

Last year Gabby and the team who run the hall were looking at activities to put on there in the daytime, and settled on twice-monthly lunches.

Everyone who attends, up to a maximum of about 20 (capped by the amount of roast potatoes and veg available) gets a main course, a pudding and a glass of something nice for a £3 contribution, in the second and fourth weeks of the month.

Helper Pam Edwards hard at work

But Tuesday's Christmas edition of the lunch club was free for the attendees thanks to a very generous lump sum donation from one of those who came along.

That only galvanised the generous lunch clubbers, who put their hands in their pockets and donated £135 between them.

That impressive amount will be added to an £85 donated at a previous lunch, and the total put toward equipment for a boxing club the hall management team are hoping to get up and running in the new year.

Gabby was helped by a team of helpers, including Sandra Ozols

"I'm not a cook, I'm a retired headteacher - but I love cooking," said Gabby.

"It's £3 a head, I can manage that for £3 a head. I have to be honest - some people give me £5 because they say 'Gabby, it's not enough!'

Gabby Franklin is a retired teacher but loves cooking

"But if I charged more, people wouldn't be able to afford it.

"I'm old but I've still got lots of energy and I'm a positive person. It's good to do things you love."

Gabby has been chair of the hall committee for more than a year and has been running the lunches since about October last year.

The club came together for a Christmas lunch last year too, but with gammon rather than turkey. "We couldn't afford it!" said Gabby.

"This year, we had enough for a gammon and a turkey, and a glass of sherry and a glass of wine!"

To learn more about the parish hall or to contact the team, visit