When you're a chef and you take up volunteering, what do you do? Why, cook, of course.
For all his work with Friendship Meals and more, Rob Roy is Volunteer of the Month.
Sandra Rickey, manager of Volunteer Whanganui, presented him with a certificate, a badge and a $40 voucher from Mud Ducks Cafe.
"I became a volunteer when Mrs Anne Murray was running a soup kitchen in the building alongside Christ Church. That was in 1978. I was in my 40s.
"We did that for quite a few years."
Mrs Murray had an arrangement with the prison for provision of eggs and vegetables, and Imlay provided left over export meat.
"We were feeding the same sort of people we are feeding today," says Rob. "The need has been there since I've been in Whanganui."
He was transferred to the Rutland Hotel Whanganui from Rotorua at Christmas, 1974, when he was working as a chef for the THC Group. In spite of working long hours in the kitchen, he also made a valuable contribution as a volunteer.
It was while he was helping Mrs Murray that the Christmas dinners began, now an annual City Mission event.
Even then, there was a problem finding a large enough space for the function, so in the second year they held it at Springvale Park, says Rob. By that time Cutelli's Bakery came on board and helped out with bread and the use of their ovens.
Jack Brotherston of the Palm Lounge also helped out with cooking the food.
From there they moved the Christmas dinner to the War Memorial Centre, where it stayed for many years.
"Now we are at the racecourse, which is fantastic because everything is there."
That's right, Rob is almost 83 and he still volunteers at Christmas, now for the City Mission. He is also on the rota as hospital volunteer chaplain: he has also volunteered for Meals on Wheels, plus, every Wednesday he is out at St Luke's church in Castlecliff, cooking Friendship Meals.
"I've always enjoyed cooking, right from when I was very young."
Rob says he was taught to cook by his stepfather. "He came from a big family in Ireland."
Needless to say, no meal was complete without potatoes. Food had to go a long way in that family — Rob is the eldest of 12 children.
Rob started his cooking career in Rotorua with an adult apprenticeship. He was 18.
"I started my training under a tough old Irishman, Paddy Purcell. He was at home with the old charcoal, coke and diesel burners.
"My first job was scrubbing pots. I said to him, 'Paddy, who's burning all the pots?' 'Don't worry about that,' he said. 'You'll know when you get on the stoves not to burn the bloody pots!' I did that for about 12 months."
He then took over the job as fourth cook.
Rob wanted to marry his fiancée, Roanne, and the only time the family could get together for the occasion was Christmas, but Paddy Purcell told him if he took Christmas off, he need not bother coming back.
Rob and Roanne got married and Rob found himself employed in forestry in Murupara for 12 months. He was planting and pruning trees.
"That's where the spade bounces back at you — it's all scoria."
Then a job came up at the Grand Hotel in Rotorua as third cook. He applied and got the job. His boss was, once again, Paddy Purcell.
"I went from there to Brent's Hotel," says Rob.
A fire damaged the kitchen and Rob was transferred to the Mayfair in Hastings, before a transfer back to Rotorua and a position as 2IC at the hotel at Whakarewarewa. He later ran two restaurants in Rotorua, worked in a bakery in Tawa, then later became a troubleshooter for THC, moving around the country, investigating poorly performing hotels.
The transfer to Whanganui in 1974 was Rob's last move and he has been here ever since, working and volunteering. Rob Roy is a worthy recipient of Volunteer of the Month.