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A tonne of support: Angus charity’s community-wide jacket tatties and soup project serves up 10,000 free meals

Andrew Stirling of Upper Dysart, MoHUB facilities manager Terry Hadden and charity co-ordinator Teresa Spark in Montrose.
Andrew Stirling of Upper Dysart, MoHUB facilities manager Terry Hadden and charity co-ordinator Teresa Spark in Montrose.

A family firm is leading an Angus-wide initiative which has seen nearly 10,000 meals served up to local communities.

Local food producer Upper Dysart has teamed up with community groups across the county to donate easily prepared food that is both healthy and nutritious.

It has seen soup packs and ready-cooked potatoes go to local groups which are then either distributed with food parcels or made into large pots of soup dished up at various locations in each Angus town.

Andrew Stirling of Upper Dysart and charity co-ordinator Teresa Spark outside Montrose Community Hub.

Since the scheme started in February a tonne of soup – 7,000 portions – has been made and more than 2,500 cooked tatties delivered.

Venues have ranged from Arbroath Football Club to Brechin’s Maisondieu Primary School, as well as social supermarket S-Mart in Forfar and Montrose Community Hub (MoHUB).

Community engagement

Charity co-ordinator Teresa Spark is building engagement with the project.

When a group or organisation agrees to take on the project, she contacts others in the area to encourage them to take part.

She said: “We knew there were some wonderful, well-run initiatives in Angus that are already right at the heart of each community.

“So we tapped into this network to provide the ingredients for them to help feed their wider community, especially those most in need.

“And what better fast food than a bowl of soup? It’s tasty, healthy and nutritious.

“The global pandemic has hit people hard, and there have been extra challenges with community cafes and other venues not able to open.

“But these are manageable and can be overcome – there’s always a way.”

Project point in each Angus burgh

The scheme aims to have one single project point in each town, using it not only to tackle food poverty and limit food waste but to signpost complementary services, such as mental health support or financial advice.

It is being supported by Redesigning Rural, a pilot project being delivered by Scottish Enterprise through the Rural Leadership programme.

Terry Hadden, Teresa Spark and Andrew Stirling in Montrose town centre.

Andrew Stirling of Upper Dysart said: “Our aim is to help to feed as many people as we can, especially children, but really any individuals or families that are struggling.

“We know there is a real need within our local communities for access to healthy and nutritious food.

“We decided to roll up our sleeves and go some way to tackling the problem.”

The company grows, processes and packs its produce at its base near Lunan Bay, between Montrose and Arbroath.

“What has been great is seeing all these different organisations working together on a single project,” said Andrew.

“Whether football clubs or church groups, some make the soup, some help dish it up and others offer deliveries.

“People want to help out and we want to connect people with the same passion and will to help others.

“In the longer term, we hope to support links in the wider Angus community to make sure that children don’t go hungry.

“We want to give our children at least one hot meal a day through either breakfast clubs or lunchtime bowls of soup and jacket potatoes.”

Details for those wishing to volunteer at the project, or take up the offer of help, are available at www.upperdysart.co.uk/community-support.

Upper Dysart’s fascinating history

The farmland now growing the produce to help in the fight against food poverty has an important connection to Britain’s military history.

In February 1913, a field on the Stirling’s farmland was the landing spot for the first planes in what would become the nation’s earliest operational military air station.

Montrose man Martin makes historic homecoming to touch down on farmland of first military airfield in Britain

Airman Charles James Burke touched down there after a 13-day journey from Hampshire in the quest for a base for No. 2 Squadron Royal Flying Corps.

It proved a temporary home and the Squadron moved soon after to land at Broomfield on the northern edge of Montrose, which became the training ground for generations of RAF and allied servicemen.

Montrose Air Station Heritage Museum occupies part of the Broomfield site and original buildings which were part of the air station until the closure of RAF Montrose in the summer of 1952.

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