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Marty McToal, the Masonic chef keeping Larne well-fed during lockdown

Marty McToal

This is the Masonic masterchef who has helped keep 100 hungry mouths fed during lockdown.

Marty McToal's meals-on-wheels service has been bringing hot meals daily to the elderly and vulnerable in his home town of Larne since the end of March.

Together with his wife Fiona and three staff, they have delivered over 4,200 individual meals to those unable to leave their homes.

He has been a member of the Masonic order since 1999 after being recommended by boxer Dave Boy McAuley.

"We believe in playing a key role in our communities and our meals-on-wheels business is central to that," he explained.

"Our community is like family and we do what we can within our power to help."

Marty's Catering Services, which does weddings and outside catering alongside its meals-on-wheel service, operates from St John's Masonic Hall in the port town.

"In the past eight weeks our meals service demand has doubled and my wife, Fiona, and three staff have been such a fantastic help; the other staff have had to be furloughed," he said.

"In an average day we are up at the crack of dawn preparing home-made meals such as roast beef, gammon, stew, mince casserole, all the Northern Ireland favourites, and a dessert - anything from apple pie to rhubarb crumble - for 100 people in all sectors of the community, and this number is growing daily.

"We do this from our catering facility in St John's Masonic Hall. We then hit the road in our four vans to deliver the food.

"We are able to supply the meals at just £4.50 per two-course meal and the response has been absolutely fantastic.

"These people, many of which are elderly and vulnerable, enjoy the daily delivery, a chat to the driver and the nourishment of a home-cooked meal."

Marty and his team also deliver to nurses at the local hospital when the canteen facilities close in the evening.

"Our business is ready to help to deliver food to anyone who needs it, all they have to do is get in touch," he said.

"This pandemic is bringing out the best in many people and uniting the community, and it is fantastic to see."

Belfast Telegraph