It was the miracle that saved Christmas 2014 for elderly residents in South Holland who feared they would be tucking into their turkeys alone or not bothering at all – and this year the community is rallying once again to join the Spalding Guardian to give them another party to remember.
Volunteers and guests will never forget the drama that surrounded Christmas Day at the Ivo Day Centre in Spalding, when the town was hit by a power cut and the brand new cooker in the re-furbished kitchen suddenly stopped working.
But our amazing volunteers rose to the challenge, with some food going to their homes to be finished off and the Lincolnshire Poacher coming to the rescue by cooking our roast potatoes.
Guests who arrived during the panic were seated in a beautifully decorated hall and served sherry and starters, while behind closed hatch doors – thanks to the volunteers and a professional hostess trolley – the main course finally came together with delicious results.
After all of the drama, would it ever happen again? You bet it will!
Phones at the Spalding Guardian office started ringing about a month ago with people wanting to know if we were running our free Christmas Day meal for the elderly again this year.
Then one of our volunteers, Chris White – who with her husband Ben were in charge of getting everyone to the venue in time and then home safely – contacted us with the amazing news a food charity was offering to help us after speaking with Radio Lincolnshire, who helped promote the event.
Buckingham Emergency Food, which is based in Norfolk but sources its vegetables from Lincolnshire, supplies food to over 200 charities across England. Following its appeal on Radio Lincolnshire, for the first time it will be supplying 11 charities in the county, including eight in Boston, – YMCA, Centrepoint, Centenary, Restore Church, Nomad Trust, Boston Baptist Church, Boston Salvation Army and ECHO – three in Lincoln and the Spalding Guardian community event.
Co-ordinator Ken Smith said: “This year is our 30th birthday. As we source our vegetables from Lincolnshire we thought we would like to give something back and support some charities in the county – and then we heard about your event.
“We expect to supply enough food for 7,500 Christmas lunches – as well as food for the winter months including 18,000 items of tinned food.
“The food will be sorted and packed at our temporary base at Roudham Farm, near Thetford, in Norfolk from December 12 to 17 and then dispatched on 11 lorries to ten distribution points, including one at Boston.”
With news of help in providing Christmas dinner, we contacted Robert West of the Ivo Day Centre to see if the venue was available and he said he would be delighted to have us back – and that the cooker was working well and the problem on Christmas Day had simply been a fuse.
He said: “We are always pleased to see people here at Christmas and would love to have you back.”
Volunteers are also keen to get on board again – and we will be in touch with the others soon!
Doreen Rudd was one of our amazing team in the kitchen. She said: “Everyone got on really well and I made a good friend that day. It was a lovely experience.”
Penny Long, who came along with her son to help, said: “Even with the problems we had, the organisation was really good and everything turned out well. And the people who came were awesome.”
Support is also coming once again from Simpson’s Butchers, who last year provided the turkeys and pigs in blankets, and members of the community who baked for us.
Beverly Mackey provided some delicious trifles. She said: “It was a way of still being able to enjoy Christmas with my family but also doing something for the community.
“I’d really recommend getting involved.”
One lady who is expecially delighted the Christmas Day meal is being run again is Jean Sanderson, who made the original appeal in the Spalding Guardian after hearing the event she usually attended was no longer being run.
We called her with the news on Tuesday and she said: “Bless you. I was just thinking about last year. I had such a marvellous time.
“I can’t thank you enough.”