THE Beacon lunch club at St Andrew Blackadder Church in North Berwick has celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Started by Janet Raeburn and Jean Hutchison, The Beacon provides locals and visitors a place to eat, drink, relax and meet new friends.

Those who go along can enjoy sandwiches, soup, tea, coffee and baking, with the main purpose of providing a place where people can get together.

The Beacon originated from the response of the guild at St Andrew Blackadder to the Church of Scotland guild’s theme for that year, ‘Let your light shine’.

Janet, former president, and Jean, former secretary, came up with the idea of serving soup, drinks and light snacks, all prepared in the tiny kitchen underneath the church hall. They planned on having two volunteers serving the food.

Original plans stated the lunches would run on the first Wednesday of the month from October to Christmas.

Quarter of a century later, The Beacon lunches are held every Thursday, only closing at Christmas and New Year.

Between Christmas and New Year, the group hold a festive Beacon where party snacks and soup are provided free of charge.

The group occasionally hosts carol singing and holds charity collections, making donations twice a year.

All of the 69 volunteers are split into five teams who run the club each Thursday.

Nowadays, the kitchen is well equipped and has a small hatch through to the hall.

Volunteers normally serve between 80 and 100 people every week.

Gertrude MacFarlane, current secretary, said: “There is always lots of chat and laughter as well as quiet support for anyone who needs it. For our regular customers, Thursday is a highlight of the week.

“Along the way in our journey from October 1994 until now, we have had many volunteers. Some have served the food, some have made soup, some have baked wonderful cakes.

“When one of our volunteers retired after 24 years, she had baked a cake each month – 288 cakes – and helped prepare 17,280 sandwiches!”

Another addition to the gatherings was the introduction of a short service at the chapel, which lasts about 30 minutes.

The Rev Dr Neil Dougall, church minister, leads a communion service every three months in line with the main Sunday services for elderly parishioners who are not able to go on a Sunday.

The work of The Beacon was recognised by the North Berwick Council of Churches with an award in 2013.

Mrs MacFarlane added: “Making money is a useful addition to the work of the wider church and we are very grateful for the faithful donations of food which we receive each week.

“I am so glad that Janet and Jean had the vision to let their light shine. The Beacon has illuminated many lives over the last 25 years. I’m sure it will continue for as long as it offers a much-needed service to the community of North Berwick.”