For almost 20 years, John McKinney has been the face of ‘meals on wheels’ in the Roe Valley and, in doing so, has delivered a lifeline service.
The Greysteel man, a former SDLP councillor and Limavady mayor was, for many of those receiving meals, the only person they would have seen all day.
“I enjoyed it surely,” John told the ‘Journal’. “It started when I was on the committee of Greysteel Community Association and then LCDI took it over. I suppose as well as getting a hot meal people looked forward to seeing you. For some of them I was the only person they’d chat to. You’d bring a bit of chat and some cheer and do a few odd jobs for people too, like light the fire or feed the dog or bring in turf. I was at it so long I got to know everyone well.”
John, aged 84, agrees the service is a lifeline for some people.
“Some people would be lost without it,” he says. “I suppose I’ve always been involved in the community, and I like being charitable. I find it very rewarding; helping other people.”
John, aged 84, said while he will miss his regular trips around the Roe Valley helping people, he felt the time had come to hand the role over to someone else. He thanked LCDI and all the staff who helped him with the role over the years.
“I will miss it, but with the winters and the weather we get, and at my age, I would hate to let people down,” he said, adding: “I’ll still be a volunteer and help out when needed.”
LCDI manager Damien Corr said John was “the very essence of community development”.
“John has been delivering meals on wheels for around 20 years, and was doing it even when he was a busy local representative, and he did it without any favour or expectation,” said Mr Corr, who recently made a special presentation to John in recognition of his years serving as a volunteer.
“He never missed a day and I think that was down to loyalty to LCDI and an understanding that people depended on him. For a lot of people, John would have been the only person they would have seen all day. He really is the essence of community development. It’s people like John - people that are at the heart of their community, helping people - that’s what it is all about. We will miss John, but typical of John he has trained his successors. He certainly didn’t walk away from it. As I say, John really typifies the essence of community development - self effacing and no self promotion. He volunteered to help others, simple as that.”