A volunteer who was recognised in the New Year’s Honours list recalls a time the foodbank gave back a woman’s “dignity”.

Kristan Payne, 68, from Borehamwood, received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to the community in Elstree and Borehamwood.

Ms Payne, who was chair of the Borehamwood Foodbank from 2013 until 2021, said she was “delighted” to receive the award.

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She told Borehamwood and Elstree Times: “I am very aware that without the full support of St Teresa's Church and the trustees and volunteers the formation of the Borehamwood Foodbank would not have been impossible. 

“It goes without saying that we hoped by now to be unnecessary, but sadly with the present climate the foodbank is busier than ever.”

The former secondary school physics teacher recalled a powerful moment when a client came into the foodbank.

Borehamwood Times: Kristan Payne was chair of the foodbank from 2013 to 2021Kristan Payne was chair of the foodbank from 2013 to 2021 (Image: Borehamwood Foodbank)

She said: “It’s a distressing story and happened years ago, but it still chokes me up a bit, even now.

“A woman came in at the end of one of our sessions, we were packing up and about to go when someone else walked in with a huge chocolate cake.

“I said to the lady, ‘would this be of any interest to you?’.

“She burst into tears, and I asked why.

“She said, ‘for a long time now, I have had to encourage other people to help my children. I have had to leave my children with another family because I did not have any food for them’.

“Then she said, ‘you have given me back my dignity. For the first time in months, I can invite people to my home and provide tea, coffee and cake, which I couldn’t do before’.

“To many of us it seems so simple to offer tea and coffee, but quite small things can completely change someone’s outlook on things.”

Borehamwood Times: Kristan Payne (centre) at the opening of the foodbank in 2013.Kristan Payne (centre) at the opening of the foodbank in 2013. (Image: Borehamwood Foodbank)

Ms Payne stepped down from her role as chair in 2021 due to health issues.

She added: “I have been deeply touched by the kind words acknowledging my work and all I can say is thank you. 

“I have gained far more than I ever gave.”