A couple from Worthing have reflected on the success of a lunch for people who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day.
Around 70 guests, including elderly people without family and adults with learning difficulties, attended the lunch in the Jubilee Hall next to the New Life Church in Greenland Road, Durrington.
Colin and Melody Pryce from Salvington Road, Worthing, organised this year’s lunch with the church, and have been involved with the event for 26 years.
Colin, a 61-year-old health and safety consultant and ex-firefighter, got up at 4am in the morning to start cooking Christmas lunch, with the help of 13 other volunteers. He said by 6pm he could ‘hardly walk’ – but it was ‘much better than sitting at home and watching Mary Poppins’.
He said: “We have lots of letters afterwards from people who come each year and it is a day they look forward to, because it is one of the only opportunities they get to get out of the house and meet other people. Normally they are locked in their house.
“When the guests start to arrive and see everything laid out for Christmas, my wife finds it hard to speak because of the tears.
“It is the joy of giving to people and there should be more of it in the community.”
Each year the lunch has a different theme. In the past, Colin has filled the hall with live farm animals for a nativity theme, and for a creation theme, he got real trees and an aviary filled with songbirds. This Christmas, more than 100 metres of tartan was swagged across the hall for a Scottish theme. Martin Mills, a tartan mill in Leeds, donated £700 worth of tartan for the event.
Melody, 59, a concert violinist and violin teacher, played for the guests and there were other party games including guess the haggis ingredients.
Colin said it had been a huge success: “At the end of the day, my wife and I cut up the Christmas cake and pass each guest a piece, and there are lots of hugs and ‘thank you so muches’.
“It’s the true Christmas spirit I call it.”