Just over 100 people attended the Christmas day lunch provided free to people who would otherwise be spending Christmas Day alone.
Some 20 people volunteered on Christmas Eve to prep vegetables, lay tables and wrap gifts for the following day. Cllr Andrew McGregor prepared a huge pan of vegan butternut squash soup , Ruth & Steve Bentley led a team in the kitchen and Doreen Large, Vanda Rudge and Yvonne Lamond collected donations from the local businesses and their team decorated the hall and tables for the day.
Two more teams of dedicated volunteers attended the centre on Christmas Day, the first group helping from 9am in prepping and serving food and the second in the all-important clean down. Special thanks go to The Ness Centre for loaning their mini bus and for Ed Chapman for driving it. Many people helped by collecting guests in their cars from their homes and bringing them in to the centre.
Elizabeth Phipps serenaded the guests as they arrived with her magnificent voice and Cllr & Mayor Robert Phipps helped with meeting, greeting and welcoming people. Thanks go to Baptist minister Jamie for saying Grace and Revd Catherine Wagstaff of Teignmouth Methodist Church for attending the day.
The kitchen team led by Steve & Ruth Bentley helping to make lunch for the third year running, did an amazing job. The meal was a resounding success and through the generosity of local businesses , everyone had a special present to take home with them. The day was marked by some stunning photos of all the people involved taken by local photographer David Caunter.
Julia Street Centre Manager said “ Whilst Christmas is a time for celebration with family and friends, it can also be a time for reflection and loneliness for many in our community. This is the 10th year I have been involved in organising this annual event at The Alice Cross and I continue to be amazed at how supportive the local people and businesses are in helping us put the lunch on.
We were inundated with offers for help, with gifts and monetary donations to the Total giving fundraising page – https://www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/Christmastogether- so far we have raised over £600, which will cover the cost of the meal and help provide funds for next year. Thanks also go to Sainsburys, Coop & Morrison for their food, voucher and volunteer time donations. There were so many people involved in making this day special for our local older people, new and existing volunteers, local friends and supporters, traders and local business, & councillors, but I’d like to make a special mention to Janet Oettl, who regularly volunteers in the kitchen making the best pasties, pastry and vegetarian lasagne, this was her 10th year of helping at the Christmas day lunch and we are very lucky to have her help and ongoing support.
Marjorie who attended the day said “ many thanks to all who gave up their time on Christmas Day to provide a Christmas dinner for so many people, who , like myself would otherwise have been eating alone, I was so pleased I decided to attend.”
Sheila and her husband said “ Thank you to Ed for collecting us from our home. It was the first time in over a year that my husband, who is wheelchair bound ,had been out from the flat, apart from hospital visits. We both had such a lovely day and may the Alice Cross go on with all activities for many years to come.”
Paul Burgess Chair of trustees said “ The Christmas Day meal event was a fantastic success with lots of people enjoying a wonderful meal. None of this would have happened if it were not for the army of volunteers, generous donations from traders and local people and especially our centre staff and manager Julia Street, whose hard work made a lot of people very happy. A big thank you to all who made this such a memorable occasion.”
Happy New year to all. If you would like to find out more about the Alice Cross and the work they do, or would be interested in volunteering, then please visit the website www.thealicecross.co.uk , facebook page https://www.facebook.com/alicecrosscentre , email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01626 778039