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Flo, 89, becomes social media star after baking hundreds of pies for those in need

PUBLISHED: 19:00 20 October 2020

Flo Osborne, 89, has been cooking pies for the elderly and vulnerable during the lockdown in Harwich from her apartment in Dovercourt. Picture: LES NICOLL

Flo Osborne, 89, has been cooking pies for the elderly and vulnerable during the lockdown in Harwich from her apartment in Dovercourt. Picture: LES NICOLL

LES NICOLL

Harwich’s very own Mary Berry has proved you are never too old to volunteer after baking more than 150 pies for the vulnerable during lockdown.

Flo Osborne, 89, has cooked more than 150 pies for the elderly and vulnerable in Harwich. Picture: LES NICOLLFlo Osborne, 89, has cooked more than 150 pies for the elderly and vulnerable in Harwich. Picture: LES NICOLL

Flo Osborne, 89, has been waking up at the crack of dawn to cook the pies at her home at Rosebank Park sheltered accommodation in Dovercourt.

The great-great grandmother has been using her time in lockdown to help others, making hundreds of pies from scratch for the town’s hot meals service which has been set up for the elderly.

Mrs Osborne learnt to bake at the age of 11 in Durham, where she was born, after learning to watch her grandmother.

She has turned her flat into a mini conveyor belt, cooking four pies at a time in her tiny oven and baking flavours such as cherry, apple and even some savoury steak pies.

Flo Osborne, 89, has been cooking pies for the elderly and vulnerable during the lockdown in Harwich. Picture: LES NICOLLFlo Osborne, 89, has been cooking pies for the elderly and vulnerable during the lockdown in Harwich. Picture: LES NICOLL

It all started when her son Graham Osborne, who runs Harwich’s Samuel Pepys restaurant, saw a post on Facebook from friend Les Nicoll asking for volunteers to cook for the vulnerable.

Mr Osborne asked his mum if she could bake a couple of pies and seven months later she is still going – helping give hot delicious meals to those who are struggling.

“Mum absolutely loves it,” said Mr Osborne. “She has only been out about four times since the lockdown began so this gives her something to wake up for.

“She calls them the ‘old folk’ even though most of them are younger than her. She doesn’t want any money, she just wants to help people in need.”

Les Nicoll, founder of North Essex Support Team (NEST), shared Mrs Osborne’s inspiring work on Facebook, with the post receiving more than 55,000 shares and hundreds of messages of support.

He said he has been inspired by the 89-year-old’s efforts.

“Flo is a beautiful and enchanting old lady who is living proof you are never too old to volunteer.

“During lockdown and beyond in her tiny kitchen Flo has cooked more than 100 wonderful fruit or meat pies for us to distribute amongst the vulnerable and elderly through our NEST/Harwich community centres hot meals service.

“Every pie is made from scratch, the pastry mixed and rolled, the fruit prepared and then cooked in her tiny oven.

“This is a remarkable act of community kindness, also a huge victory over age and supposed infirmity.”

Mr Nicoll and his team of 168 volunteers have delivered more than 5,000 hot meals to the town’s most vulnerable and elderly throughout the pandemic.

They deliver the meals three times a week and will often be the only person their customers will see that day, or that week.

Mr Nicoll said Mrs Osborne has proved you are never too old to help others.


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