Constance Jessep has been delivering Meals on Wheels for more than half a century and has no intention of stopping.

The 85-year-old told Hawke's Bay Today yesterday she has been part of the volunteer service for 54 years.

The Napier Meals on Wheels, which is part of the Red Cross, celebrates its 55th anniversary on May 8 with a morning tea for all of its drivers.

Mrs Jessep was proud to be part of a special organisation and did not think she would be giving up volunteering any time soon.


"I thought it was such a wonderful thing. I got involved straight away.

"A Red Cross person came to visit me and I thought it was a great idea, keeping people safe in the home and having a good meal.

"I think it was worthwhile being involved and meeting old people. Sometimes I think I might be older than them."

The proud grandmother of eight said she would often take her children and grandchildren along when she did her rounds.

"They would come with me when they were little because children don't judge people, they just accept them for who they are, and it always made those we visited feel even happier."

She said along with supplying a healthy meal it was a way for those she visited to have some company they might not usually have.

"I had one lady who would love to chat, so I would leave her until last so I could sit and chat with her for a while.

"The lady loved to talk," Mrs Jessep said.


Napier Meals on Wheels councillor of honour Joan Cockburn said the service started out 55 years ago.

"We started with seven people and three drivers. Now we do 11 runs with 12 meals, that's 132 meals a day and we have 160 drivers."

Mrs Cockburn said the volunteers were mostly elderly.

"It's life saving, people can stay in their own house.

"It's safer for them because there is less risk of them falling or hurting themselves while cooking, and plus they are getting a healthy meal as well."

She said the organisation was always looking for volunteers. For more information on how to become a volunteer ring (06) 843 0041.

The morning tea will be held at Living Waters Church in Tamatea, at 9.30am on May 8, which is World Red Cross Day.