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Friday, 28 November 2014

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The Hairy Bikers all set for Taste Cumbria festival

TV faves The Hairy Bikers are revving up to appear in the Taste Cumbria food festival later this month.

Hairy Bikers photo
Dave Myers and Si King

But before the well-fed duo ride into Cockermouth for the event, they are appearing in their latest series.

Barrow-lad Simon King and his Geordie mate Dave Myers roar back onto our small screens next week in Hairy Bikers Meals On Wheels.

Their new four-part TV series will raise awareness about the sad state of one of Britain’s most important voluntary institutions: Meals On Wheels.

We caught up with them to ask a few questions about the new show.

Why did you decide to help meals on wheels get back on its feet?

King: I lost me mam about two years ago – and she was a fantastic cook. Leading up to that point, we tried to get various local services involved, but mum wasn’t interested. They didn’t provide food she wanted to eat. Luckily my family lived relatively close, rallied round and cooked her meals.

Myers: We went on the Meals On Wheel diet for a week and it was bloody awful. Where the service still exists it’s been cut down, so you get a delivery once a fortnight of a chest of 14 frozen meals that you microwave. We had frozen omelette and chips. It was horrible.

What has happened to the meals on wheels service?

Myers: It started in Welwyn Garden City during World War Two during the Blitz. Ladies got together to feed vulnerable elderly people, off their ration books. Eight years ago, 34 million meals were delivered every year. Now that’s dropped down by a third, and of those just 15 per cent are freshly cooked.

King: The number of people aged over 60 is expected to rise 50 per cent in the next 25 years. We need it now more than ever.

How are you going to make a difference?

King: The lifeblood of Meals On Wheels is the volunteers. We realised the service wasn’t attracting new ones, so we went to the advertising firm Saatchi and asked them to build a message people could rally round: Deliver A Difference. On our website you’ll be able to log on, find out how to start a Meals On Wheels service from scratch, supply fresh ingredients to an already existing service, or just find out recipes.

Myers: We didn’t want to take the project on if it disappeared afterwards. The BBC is committed to maintaining a website, so people can volunteer and find out what’s happening in their area.

What did you find frustrating while filming?

King: We were outside Hampton Court Station and handing out leaflets. We weren’t being pushy, but we got blanked by people. Eventually we thought, ‘Who’s got money, leisure time, and who’s fit?’ So we drove a golf buggy onto a course, starting talking to people and got really good support.

Myers: The show made me laugh, made me cry and it certainly made me very angry. It doesn’t take much to make those older years very pleasurable. And volunteers delivering food can play a big part in that. If you are isolated, your family are away and you can’t get out, that knock on the door is massively important.

Will viewers be surprised by this programme?

King: It’s the most important thing we’ve done so far, a change of direction for us.

It’s something that really does matter. We can lark about and have fun, but this is life and death really.

Myers: Our raison d’etre is about celebrating food. And when you’re vulnerable, a freshly cooked meal, given to you with a smile and a bit of a natter, what more can you want?

Hairy Bikers Meals On Wheels will start on BBC Two on Tuesday at 9pm.

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