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Supporting Stortford Traders in Lockdown: Publican's free Sunday roasts for families in need wins councillor's backing

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Publican Michelle Brace's Sunday roast support for families in need has won the backing of Cllr Colin Woodward.

The Conservative has stepped in to assist the Wheatsheaf licensee and other traders in Bishop's Stortford by sponsoring the Indie's four-week free advertising campaign, Supporting Stortford Traders in Lockdown, to the tune of £1,000.

The initiative throughout February – which starts in this Wednesday's edition – highlights 43 shops and other businesses still offering Covid-secure goods and services during the latest lockdown.

BSI Supporting Traders logo (44207255)
BSI Supporting Traders logo (44207255)

Throughout the past year, Cllr Woodward, who represents the Bishop's Stortford West division on Herts County Council, has used the annual £10,000 locality budget given to each of the authority's 78 members to support local initiatives, with priority given to pandemic projects.

Cllr Woodward said that Michelle's decision to launch a Facebook fundraising appeal to offer her popular Sunday roast dinners to families in need for free, alongside deliveries to her regular takeaway customers, was exactly the kind of community initiative by businesses he wanted to spotlight.

Michelle raised £1,520 from supporters to cover costs and most recently on Sunday (Jan 31) she supplied four families – 19 people – with a traditional roast with all the trimmings "to ease their worries during lockdown".

The Wheatsheaf, Rye Street, Bishop's Stortford. Michelle Brace. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (44205373)
The Wheatsheaf, Rye Street, Bishop's Stortford. Michelle Brace. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (44205373)

Over the past three weekends, 57 such meals have been dished up alongside her regular orders as she works to keep her business afloat while also caring for her sons, Felix, 6, and Noah, 4.

They normally attend Northgate Primary School, and when she launched her appeal, Michelle said: "With many parents now homeschooling and having to provide extra lunchtime meals for their children each week, we're hoping to ease the burden a little come the weekend.

"We will be delivering free roast dinners to struggling families in the local area up until schools go back."

After Cllr Woodward backed the Indie's advertising campaign for traders like her, she said: "Little businesses like ours need all the help we can get right now."

Bishop's Stortford. Colin Woodward. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (44205393)
Bishop's Stortford. Colin Woodward. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (44205393)

As well as her Sunday roast service, the Wheatsheaf kitchen is also home to Japanese street food specialist Katsu Charlie, available to order from 5pm to 8pm Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

With applications for his funding closing on February 15 because Herts County Council elections are scheduled for May, Cllr Woodward said: "My criteria this time has been a leaning towards those helping others during the pandemic and to an extent also those not so able to readily benefit from experienced fundraisers or much public profile."

Other good causes to benefit from his budget include Essex and Herts Air Ambulance, Citizens Advice East Herts, Home-Start Hertfordshire, Isabel Hospice, Bishop's Stortford Youth Project, Carers in Hertfordshire, Herts Young Homeless, Manor Fields School Association, Red Kite Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Service and the Douglas Bader Foundation's #ProjectLimitless which aims to give every child who needs one access to a prosthetic arm.

The Wheatsheaf, Rye Street, Bishop's Stortford. Michelle Brace. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (44205365)
The Wheatsheaf, Rye Street, Bishop's Stortford. Michelle Brace. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (44205365)


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