Cooking up Christmas cheer for the community

One of the garden centre chefs making pigs in the kitchen

One of the garden centre chefs making pigs in the kitchen - Credit: Otter Garden Centre

A family-run garden centre in Ottery St Mary wants to make sure that no-one in the local community will go short of a festive meal on Christmas Day.

With the annual free Christmas lunch in the town unable to take place due to the pandemic, Jacqui Taylor and her team of willing helpers at Otter Garden Centre are offering to provide a roast turkey dinner complete with a Christmas cracker and mince pie to the elderly, infirm, isolated or anyone otherwise in need, at no cost. The meal will be freshly cooked and delivered at lunchtime on December 25.

She says, “It’s been such a hard year for everyone but especially so for older people and those who have had to shield – there has been so much isolation and loneliness. Many don’t have family to care for them, whilst for others their family members live a long distance away or in a higher tier, so they are not able to visit this Christmas.”

“We really do believe Christmas is a time for giving and for showing that we care. With this small gesture we hope that the most vulnerable and lonely in our community will know that we are thinking of them.”

The meals, which will be freshly prepared by the restaurant team in the garden centre kitchens, will include roast turkey and all the trimmings - roast potatoes, fresh vegetables, stuffing, pigs in blankets and gravy, plus the all-important homemade mince pie to finish.

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Jacqui, several family members and a team of local volunteers will be putting off their own celebrations until later on Christmas Day in order to make the deliveries and ensure the food arrives piping hot and on time.

Family, friends and neighbours are encouraged to nominate anyone they think should be included. Former mayor Glyn Dobson and the Ottery Help Scheme are putting the list together. Glyn says that he has received requests from family members living hundreds of miles for their elderly parents to receive a meal.

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To nominate someone for a meal, contact Glyn at or Emily at the Ottery Help Scheme at

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