Festive lunch for lonely in Sidmouth a success

SCORES of residents who faced spending Christmas Day alone enjoyed a community lunch which saw them spend the special time together.

The successful event was attended by 64 people and support for it was praised as “overwhelming.”

The number of people who turned out was nearly twice as many as at the first-ever lunch last year.

The Catholic Church allowed use of St Teresa’s hall free of charge, Sidmouth Living With Cancer loaned its mini-bus to collect guests and Jenny Goodall from Sidmouth Help Link helped spread the word to those facing the prospect of spending Christmas Day alone.

Organiser Angie Carney said: “It was a real celebration of community with many of our friends and family, and others we have never met, giving towards the day. People really want to make a difference for others and we are so grateful for their support.”

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Angie said there had been an “amazing” response to the cause being selected as one of the beneficiaries of Waitrose’s Community Matters scheme.

“We bought as much as possible from local shops with all the vegetables coming from Winchesters, and Hayman’s butchers once again providing the turkey,” she added.

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“By popular request, Alison Clarke from Leigh Cottages made and donated our cranberry relish again this year.

“The Methodist Church loaned us tablecloths and Pippa Wright from Regency Flowers made the beautiful table decorations. Every guest went home with a goody bag filled with gifts, a piece of Christmas cake donated by The Upper Crust and a voucher for a complimentary hairdo from Becky Robson of The Hair Temple.”

Entertainment was provided by Steve and Brigid McEleney-Smith with Anne Wilson. Sidmouth’s Harriet Mulchrone, who is studying at the Royal Northern College of Music, delighted everyone by singing Ave Maria and Puccini’s O Mio Babbino Caro and Margaret Newman presented a comedy sketch.

The Queen’s speech, viewed on a big screen, rounded off the afternoon.

“We’ve had lots of great feedback from guests already” said Angie, “and it also helped some of our helpers who find Christmas a difficult time. It was lovely to have more children and young people with us this year too. They enjoyed the opportunity of showing people what a positive and worthwhile contribution young people make to society and to our community in particular.”

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