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Volunteer chef for Bury St Edmunds-based Gatehouse foodbank hangs up his apron after 21 years





A volunteer who has been cooking a foodbank’s Christmas lunch for 21 years has hung up his pots for the final time.

Jim Herrington, 59, cooked his last festive meal for Gatehouse at St Benedict’s Catholic School in Bury St Edmunds over Christmas.

Jim, who lives in Barrow and works as group head of marketing at Techpoint, began volunteering at the Christmas lunch in 2001 when he was going through a divorce.

Jim Herrington, 59, with Amanda Bloomfield, CEO of Gatehouse. Picture: Mecha Morton
Jim Herrington, 59, with Amanda Bloomfield, CEO of Gatehouse. Picture: Mecha Morton

When Jim came to volunteer for the first time, the chef who was meant to be cooking the lunch was taken ill and Jim had to step up to the plate. The meal was a success and Jim cooked ever since.

He said: “I realised I could help out at Christmas and I probably needed Gatehouse as much as they needed me.

“Although I was living with my parents, I wanted to do something that was worthwhile.”

Jim, of Barrow, began volunteering for the Bury St Edmunds charity when he was going through a divorce. Picture: Mecha Morton
Jim, of Barrow, began volunteering for the Bury St Edmunds charity when he was going through a divorce. Picture: Mecha Morton

At one stage, Jim became a trustee for the charity but he ultimately had to give that up as he was doing a lot of international travel for his job. But he continued to give his time to the Christmas meal.

For Jim, the best part of his time as chef was making people happy.

“I’ve always enjoyed giving back,” he said.

Jim has dedicated many years to volunteer work including 21 years to Sporting 87's youth team. Picture: Mecha Morton
Jim has dedicated many years to volunteer work including 21 years to Sporting 87's youth team. Picture: Mecha Morton

“To see vulnerable people happy, make them smile and give them some company on Christmas Day is a really valuable and humbling thing.

“I just liked going round afterwards and seeing smiling people with empty plates – that’s always a good thing.”

Jim has given many years to volunteer work, including a further 21 years to setting up Sporting 87 football club’s youth team, and after just over two decades with Gatehouse he has decided to hand over to someone else.

“I realised that after 21 years I could probably do with a day off on Christmas Day myself,” he added.

“There’s lots of people who want to volunteer as well. Let’s see if they can grow even further than it is.”

Amanda Bloomfield, CEO of the charity, said: “I just want to say a huge thank you to Jim for his massive commitment to the charity. He’s always been great fun to work with and we shall miss him a lot.

“Jim was a huge part of the Christmas lunch.”

It is not yet known who will take over the cooking duties as the Christmas lunch will be reviewed in February – a process where the charity discusses what went well and what could be improved for the coming year.