Spirit of Christmas aids Sidmouth festive lunch success

Sidmouth’s first community Christmas Day lunch hailed a success

SIDMOUTH’S Christmas spirit came to the fore this year to make the town’s first community Christmas Day lunch a great success.

A conversation with an ambulance driver three years ago, inspired Sidmouth couple Mick and Angie Carney of Winslade Road, to organise a community lunch for people who would otherwise be alone for Christmas.

Helped by church youth worker Kate Hamilton and her husband Chris, friends from Sidmouth’s churches, individuals and businesses, they made Christmas special for 34 people.

“It was so exciting and encouraging to experience, first hand, how the people of Sidmouth have such a huge heart for others,” said Angie, who received daily offers of help, donations and money following the Sidmouth Herald’s article about the planned lunch.

“Support was overwhelming. Our daughter Vikki, 21, came from London to help and said she didn’t know there were so many lovely people in the world.”

Butcher Stuart Hayman roasted a turkey bought for the lunch and sliced it ready to serve with all the trimmings, while Jo and Mark Seward of the Kingswood Hotel donated mulled wine and loaned sherry glasses for the lunch at St Teresa’s hall.

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The Willow Tree donated two cakes and everyone went home with a piece of Christmas cake.

“We bought as much as possible from local shops,” said Angie.

Mick and his pals prepared spuds, while others made up gift bags. Sidmouth Living With Cancer loaned its mini-bus to collect guests and Jenny Goodall and members of Sidmouth Help Link suggested those who might enjoy the lunch.

Both SLWC and Help Link will receive donations in the New Year, said Angie.

“I was so proud of Vikki and everyone who helped,” she said. “It could have been a real headache but everything went really smoothly.

“Although Churches Together in Sidmouth has officially been disbanded, the Community Christmas Lunch is just one example of the brilliant way that churches in Sidmouth are building great relationships and working together in our community.”

Entertainment was provided by Steve and Brigid McEleney-Smith and Steve Critchlow. Eleanor Griffiths performed her audition piece for the BRIT School of Music and there was a visit from the Christmas Tree Fairy, Margaret Newman, who later doubled up as a washing up fairy.

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

“It’s been a great Christmas, We’ve caught a glimpse of life at its best…and we will be doing this again next year,” said Angie, who has already heard from guests who enjoyed their special Christmas Day.