Pub offers free meals to help Ottery households in need

Balfour Arms landlady Debi Potter

Balfour Arms landlady Debi Potter has expanded her lockdown free meals service to help people in Ottery - Credit: Balfour Arms

A pub landlady is offering free meals to people in Ottery who have been hit hard by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Debi Potter, who runs the Balfour Arms in Sidmouth, is expanding the community free meals service she launched at the start of the first lockdown last March.

The pub already runs a home delivered meals service for paying customers and now Debi has decided that when they are delivering paid-for meals to Ottery, they will also deliver free meals to struggling households.

She explained: “We deliver meals in the evenings currently and decided that when we are going to Ottery to serve a customer we could also take a hot meal to someone in need. We’ll offer anything that’s hot and nourishing. So far we’ve delivered fish and chips, gammon steaks and Sunday roasts.”

The free meals have been available to people in Sidmouth since the first lockdown and the Balfour Arms also provides free school meals to children in need.

Debi explained: “We provide free packed lunches for children every day. Today we did 22. Staff have volunteered to come in and make the meals for the kids. It’s been brilliant.”

She praised the outpouring of community goodwill that has supported the pub’s initiative.

Most Read

“The community has been amazing. People have contributed a lot to help us maintain this service. Lidl have given us weekly donations and we’ve also had donations from Spar and Sainsbury’s – as well as from local residents.

“It has been a super effort, quite humbling in fact. To see people coming together to help eachother has been amazing.

“One of our elderly customers had a small kitchen fire and lost the use of her microwave. It was her lifeline. But a local retailer replaced it free of charge.”

Deb added: “People have had time on their hands because they have been locked down and they have seen the problems and the despair caused by the pandemic. So I think that made them want to help others and do their bit.”

If you are struggling to make ends meet and would like to see if the Balfour Arms can help, you can call the pub on 01395 513443.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter