Goodbye to a ‘selfless’ leader

Peter Cooper

Gill Rose, secretary,
Meals on Wheels,
Fish Hoek

Early in 1983 the Fish Hoek service centre trading as Fish Hoek Meals on Wheels was founded.

Our dedicated team of volunteers (more than 100) cook and deliver a three-course meal to an average of 40-plus recipients,three times a week.

Peter Cooper and his wife, Joyce, joined the service centre around 1995 and volunteered as cooks. Peter also co-ordinated the schedule for drivers and hoppers to deliver meals to the recipients and gladly stood in for any volunteer who could not do their duty.

In May 2007, Peter became chairman of the organisation, a position he held until May 2019 when he retired due to failing health.

Chris Kaier, a fellow volunteer and secretary for many years, recalls Peter arriving at the kitchen on one occasion to deliver meals and the cooks team had failed to arrive.

This did not deter Peter. He went off to the local fish-and-chips shop and bought take-away meals and delivered these, much to the delight of the recipients.

Peter was totally dedicated to helping those in need and went above and beyond the scope of his position to help any elderly person in need.

Peter came from a military background, and Brigid Lawrence, a fellow committee member, recalls Peter running the centre with regimental precision yet never domineering.

In his 12 years as chairman, he set up job descriptions, good practices and procedures and played an integral part in making the organisation into the smooth running operation it is today.

Val West recalls the following: Peter was an intensely practical leader. This was perfectly demonstrated during the months that the access road to the Meals on Wheels kitchen was dug up and tarred. Peter had to develop an alternative entry to the kitchen.

This was no problem for the cooks who could simply walk through the hospital grounds. However, the drivers and hoppers required a more developed plan, as they, often elderly, needed a way to transport the heavy trays of 40 meal containers.

Peter planned a route, and a friend lent him a luggage porter’s trolley. Solution. The trolley was loaded at the kitchen and carefully pushed down a slightly precarious route to the hospital car park. It was a very successful solution to a difficult problem, and typical of Peter’s determined and practical approach to leading Meals on Wheels.

We wish to express our deepest condolences to Peter’s family and friends. Peter was a true gentleman, giving selflessly of himself and caring deeply about the welfare of the elderly.

As an organisation, we will strive to maintain and improve our service to the community, and, in doing so, honour Peter’s commitment to Fish Hoek Meals on Wheels.

Peter will be remembered fondly and his contribution sorely missed.

We base our service on the national Meals on Wheels guidelines and ethos but operate independently of the national Meals on Wheels organisation. As such we receive no funding from the national organisation or from government. We can only achieve these goals with the support of members of the public and businesses in our community. Without this, serving those in our area would not be possible.

We would also like to thank all the volunteers for their time and dedication during the past years. Lastly, a very big thank you to the community for supporting our Christmas drive and donating so generously to the Christmas hampers we are preparing to hand out to the recipients.

For more information on how to become a volunteer or to make a donation, email Carin Chisnall at c.chisnall@mweb.co.za