A ‘SINGING dog’ is spreading a bit of cheer to people stuck in their homes during lockdown.

Social enterprise Our Community Kitchen has delivered more than 1,000 hot meals to people throughout Haddington during the coronavirus crisis.

However, it has not just been meals – including chicken casserole, tuna pasta bake and corned beef stovies with red cabbage – that have been warming hearts and putting smiles on faces.

Maria Maguire and her trusty companion Bertie, a soft toy, have also been perking people up during the difficult time.

Maria, who trained professionally as an actor and performer, said: “It all came about because I do laughter therapy and relaxation ways to help cheer people up.

“When I was starting to do the deliveries, I wore a funny hat and asked people if they would like a song.

“I would change song and ask for requests.”

Since then, performances have ranged from Happy Birthday to Old MacDonald Had A Farm, with each commission raising money for the good cause.

Our Community Kitchen was formed by Elaine Gale more than two years ago with a view to tackling social isolation throughout Haddington and the surrounding villages.

Members of the public were invited to Haddington Bowling Club, where they could enjoy a tasty meal and get round the dinner table with other members of the community.

Lockdown restrictions meant the facility had to close its doors but the decision was made to deliver meals to ensure people were still getting fed.

Maria has known Elaine for a number of years and describes Our Community Kitchen as “a marvellous idea”.

However, until recently, Maria, who specialises in complementary therapies, had been unable to volunteer with the group due to work commitments.

When lockdown restrictions got under way, she offered to deliver food throughout the town.

She said: “Our Community Kitchen was set up to help people with isolation, in whatever shape or form – is this not isolation for them?

“I particularly wanted to help with that.

“I always thought that it was a brilliant idea and it had a great number of volunteers, particularly helping with the driving.

“Now I am available to help I can do that too.”

Maria, who lives in the town, said delivering the meals and seeing the reaction on people’s faces was wonderful.

At the same time, she has also joined volunteers in making wellness calls and checking in on vulnerable members of the community to ensure they are alright.

Elaine said Bertie had proven a great success and was even performing for people on the other side of the world.

She said: “People across the world are donating to Our Community Kitchen and local people are donating as well.

“Maria is going out with him and doing a singsong at people’s doors and it is just wonderful.

“It is cheering everybody up.

“It is a bit of fun in this really confusing time for people, it is just so lovely.”