March 10 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, December 26, 2013
People who would potentially be alone at Christmas have not missed out on the celebrations thanks to those who have given up their time.
Yesterday in west Suffolk, traditional Christmas lunches were hosted by the Gatehouse charity in Bury St Edmunds and the Catholic Church at the Croft in Sudbury.
About 80 people enjoyed the meal organised by Gatehouse, which was held at St Benedict’s Catholic School in Bury.
The event was made possible thanks to about 150 volunteers, including helpers in the kitchen and drivers.
Chief executive of Gatehouse, Amanda Bloomfield, said the lunch was for socially-isolated individuals.
“Lots of them who come either don’t have any family or they live too far away to travel. It just means they come out to see people when they wouldn’t have seen people over the Christmas period at all.”
One of the special guests to visit during the event was Mayor of St Edmundsbury councillor Terry Buckle.
A number of Bury businesses supported the event financially, including Waitrose, Baker Tilly and Music Sales which donated about £3,000 between them.
In Sudbury organisers had no idea how many people were going to turn up to the lunch in the Catholic Church hall as people do not book in advance.
But Teresa Bishop, who has cooked every one of the festive meals since the event began nine years ago, said they always had enough food.
“It’s open to anybody who really, through any reason, just cannot manage Christmas themselves.”
She added: “It’s really just like having a huge extended family. The atmosphere is always lovely. And we all just have a thoroughly good time really.”
Mrs Bishop did not miss out on seeing her own family on Christmas Day as they were also helping at the lunch.
A number of local organisations have supported the event, including Angelo Smith jewellers which provided the turkeys.