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Gorleston vicar and food bank leader honoured by Queen for services during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 06:30 10 October 2020

Reverend Matthew Price, vicar at St Mary Magdalene church in Gorleston, has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to the community during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Diocese of Norwich.

Reverend Matthew Price, vicar at St Mary Magdalene church in Gorleston, has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to the community during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Diocese of Norwich.

Archant

A vicar who led a food bank at the height of the coronavirus lockdown has been honoured in the Queen’s birthday list.

Reverend Matthew Price, vicar at St Mary Magdalene church in Gorleston, sorting food parcels during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Diocese of Norwich.Reverend Matthew Price, vicar at St Mary Magdalene church in Gorleston, sorting food parcels during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Diocese of Norwich.

Reverend Matthew Price, 42, vicar at St Mary Magdalene church in Gorleston, has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the community during the pandemic.

“As a church, and for me as a vicar, we did what anyone would have done in response to the crisis,” he said.

“We ran a food bank out of the church hall, a daily service, from mid-March to the end of July, and sent out food to 1,100 people, to people who were self-isolating and unable to get food in any other way.

“For some people it was a financial need,” he added.

Hundreds of people have been supported by the emergency foodbank service in Great Yarmouth. Picture: The Rev Matthew PriceHundreds of people have been supported by the emergency foodbank service in Great Yarmouth. Picture: The Rev Matthew Price

As the Covid-19 crisis unfolded in March, Revd Price moved into action to steer the existing food bank, which his church has been part of for many years, into forming the new Great Yarmouth Foodbank Emergency Delivery Service (GYFEDS).

That same month, Great Yarmouth Borough Council approached him to form a partnership.

The council used its own employees, whose jobs were furloughed during the lockdown, to help with deliveries, and used its influence and buying power to provide essential food supplies to the system.

With the food bank’s knowledge of food collection, organisation and distribution, the vicar, who moved to St Mary Magdalene church in January 2018 following a stint as curate in Bradwell, brought together many key players including representatives of local food suppliers, the borough council and led the recruitment of many volunteers.

Hundreds of people have been supported by the emergency foodbank service in Great Yarmouth. Picture: The Rev Matthew PriceHundreds of people have been supported by the emergency foodbank service in Great Yarmouth. Picture: The Rev Matthew Price

He has enabled and encouraged community-minded people to grow into their roles and build good relationships with stakeholders in other organisations including local churches.

When he learned he was selected for the medal, he was “completely blown away”, he said.

“The original letter went missing and the first I heard of it was a voicemail from somebody at the cabinet office. I had to listen three times, I couldn’t believe anybody would want to speak with me from the cabinet office.”

The food bank is now open three mornings a week.

Revd Price said: “We are beginning to see demand rise again as the economic impact starts to kick in, we’re expecting a second surge in demand.

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