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Army chefs cook up festive meal at Colchester’s homeless shelter

PUBLISHED: 13:48 15 December 2017 | UPDATED: 15:02 15 December 2017

From left, Staff Sergeant Simon Taylor, Sergeant Ash Jacobs and Lance Corporal Sam Godfrey, cChefs from 16 Air Assault Brigade serving up platefuls of festive cheer to homeless people at Colchester Emergency Night Shelter.
 Picture: SGT JONATHAN LEE VAN ZYL

From left, Staff Sergeant Simon Taylor, Sergeant Ash Jacobs and Lance Corporal Sam Godfrey, cChefs from 16 Air Assault Brigade serving up platefuls of festive cheer to homeless people at Colchester Emergency Night Shelter. Picture: SGT JONATHAN LEE VAN ZYL

UK Ministry of Defence © Crown copyright 2017

Army chefs from Colchester Garrison helped serve up platefuls of festive cheers to homeless people in the town.

Staff Sergeant Simon Taylor serves up Christmas dinner for homeless people at Colchester Emergency Night Shelter. Picture: SGT JONATHAN LEE VAN ZYLStaff Sergeant Simon Taylor serves up Christmas dinner for homeless people at Colchester Emergency Night Shelter. Picture: SGT JONATHAN LEE VAN ZYL

Cooks from 16 Air Assault Brigade, based at the town’s Merville Barracks, volunteer once a week to cook dinner at the Colchester Emergency Night Shelter for residents – something they have been doing since 2014.

The team wanted to make a special effort for Christmas at the homeless shelter.

Between them they raised £950 to decorate the centre, serve up turkey with all the trimmings and buy presents for the residents, such as jumpers and toiletries.

Sergeant Ashley Jacobs, 33, from Felixstowe, said: “Cooking at the Night Shelter is a great way to use our skills as chefs to support people in need in the local community.

Airborne chefs plate up Christmas dinner for homeless people at Colchester Emergency Night Shelter. Picture: SGT JONATHAN LEE VAN ZYLAirborne chefs plate up Christmas dinner for homeless people at Colchester Emergency Night Shelter. Picture: SGT JONATHAN LEE VAN ZYL

“Our junior chefs gain a different perspective on life from coming here and mixing with the residents.

“We always like to do something special at Christmas and people have been really generous supporting us.

“We’ve collected much more than we needed to pay for the meal so we’ve got funds to support our ongoing work.”

The voluntary project has also seen the chefs re-organise the centre’s kitchen and stock keeping.

Private James Hatcher serves up food at Colchester Emergency Night Shelter. Picture: SGT JONATHAN LEE VAN ZYLPrivate James Hatcher serves up food at Colchester Emergency Night Shelter. Picture: SGT JONATHAN LEE VAN ZYL

Lance Corporal Sam Godfrey, 25, from Glastonbury, added: “I really enjoy coming to cook at the homeless shelter, it’s good to help people who are less fortunate than we are and just need a little bit of support.

“To me Christmas is a time for being at home with your family and these guys haven’t necessarily got a family to go to, so tonight we’re their family and we’re putting on a celebration for them.”

Marina Woodrow, Colchester Emergency Night Shelter manager, said: “This is the second time that chefs from 16 Air Assault Brigade have organised a Christmas dinner for our residents and it is truly the highlight of the Night Shelter’s festive programme.

“Our residents can find the holiday season difficult and the effort that the chefs put in to creating a warm, welcoming and special experience is beyond words.

“We are exceptionally grateful for the support we receive from the Army chefs.”

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