A TORFAEN pastor whose church has helped to provide more than 10,000 meals over the past 20 weeks has been recognised with a High Sheriff Award.

Noddfa Church, in Abersychan, partnered with Food Share and local supermarkets to provide up to 100 food parcels a week to those in need in the community.

A team of volunteers helped at the church to sort, pack and deliver the food parcels, spearheaded by residents Mandy and Russ Archer.

On Thursday Pastor John Funnell, of the church, was joined by the High Sheriff of Gwent Tim Russen, and Torfaen MP Nick Thomas-Symonds, to accept the award on behalf of the church.

“I’m totally blown away by the award,” said Pastor John.

“It’s something I am completely humbled by and can only thank God and the community here. I love it in this place.

South Wales Argus:

“We agreed the partnership with Food Share to take surplus food from Pontypool Tesco and Brynmawr Asda. It has been in the pipeline for months but when Covid hit it was scaled up massively.

“Food banks were no longer operating and we took on a huge task of feeding lots of vulnerable people here."

South Wales Argus:

Mr Thomas-Symonds said: “This really is something special to see Pastor John receive this. It’s fully merited and reflects what has been done during the crisis and beyond.


“I’ve seen first hand the tremendous support this place has provided to people in our communities.

South Wales Argus:

“Pastor John and Noddfa have been a beacon of light in our borough.”

The award is not just for Pastor John and his team’s efforts during the pandemic, but also for the church’s impact on the community since he joined six years ago.

Since then, the congregation has gone from 10 members to hundreds walking through the doors each week.

“I couldn’t have done it without the love and support of this community,” said Pastor John.

“The pandemic has brought to the forefront what we do, but this is a culmination of years of work.”

Pastor John spoke about the impact he wants the church to continue to have on social mobility, adding: “We’ve got homework clubs, kids clubs, youth clubs, the food bank, as well as the services we do normally.

“I feel passionately that the church needs to be a vehicle for human fulfilment. It offers a safe space for the vulnerable. We now have people that come here from all walks of life, who I hope get a sense of purpose in their lives as a result.”

High Sheriff Tim Russen said: “The award is to recognise those who go above and beyond for their community, and I can think of no better recipient than Pastor John.”

The church had been been offering its usual services online throughout lockdown, but is now preparing to welcome back its congregation for socially distanced services.