TONI McPhail and Karen Winter have been nominated as ‘Hidden Heroes’ as part of a national celebration to recognise Meals on Wheels’ heroes as part of Meals on Wheels Week 2020.

Working for apetito, which is responsible for some 60% of meals on wheels nationwide, and based at the depot in Winchester, Toni and Karen are part of a bigger team who collectively deliver nearly two million meals across the UK each year.

Driver, Toni McPhail, 53, from Fareham and delivers in the town, who was nominated by customers in the Hampshire area for her lovely cheerful and helpful manner, says “It’s an honour to be recognised by our customers. I love my job and it’s a great feeling knowing that we make a real difference to our customers lives. I was overwhelmed and humbled by the positive feedback from our customers.”

Comments from customers and their families included “Toni is the very essence of customer service”

The second of these awards goes to Karen Winter, 50, from the New Forest, who has received the Manager’s Hidden Hero award. She mainly delivers in the New Milton area.

Apetito depot operations manager, Anna Eagle, said: “I nominated Karen for this award as she is articulate, responsive in processes and procedures, reliable, punctual and always helpful. Nothing is ever to much trouble.

“These awards are our way of giving ALL our drivers the recognition, praise and thanks they deserve. Every single one of our drivers regularly go beyond the call of duty to help customers and provide that added reassurance to family members their loved ones are safe, particularly earlier in the year when local authority support teams and carers, who monitor and care for individuals, may not have been able to visit."

Meals on Wheels Week 2020 celebrates the magnificent work of Meals on Wheels teams, who played a pivotal role in the Covid-19 frontline effort, giving recognition and praise to those who have been the hidden heroes of the pandemic.

Meals on Wheels services provide a vital lifeline to the elderly and vulnerable, enabling them to continue living independently in the community all year round. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of vulnerable people living in the community, confined to their own homes and reliant on others, increased significantly.