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Christmas Day lunch being held for people on their own

Date: 16th November, 2017

A special Christmas Day lunch is again being held this year for people who might otherwise be alone.

The event started at Trowbridge fire station in 2011 but is now hosted in the Atrium of County Hall, with over 200 guests and volunteers involved last year.

Originally organised by staff from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, volunteers are now drawn from the Service, Wiltshire Council, Apetito and Elior, operating as Company For Christmas.

The 2016-17 High Sheriff of Wiltshire, Sir David Hempleman-Adams, chose Company For Christmas as one of just five recipients of a High Sheriff’s Commendation for his year, and the award was presented to the event’s founders in March.

Control Crew Manager Kate Dewey has been involved from the outset and said: “The lunch is free and open to anyone who doesn’t want to be on their own on Christmas Day, and we welcome all ages and backgrounds. None of it would be possible without the amazingly generous donations that we get from the local community, or the support of our fantastic volunteers – all of whom are prepared to give up their own Christmas Day to ensure that others can celebrate as well.”

She added: “The generosity we receive, with offers of help and donations every year, is heart-warming and overwhelming. Any volunteers who would like to come and help out are always welcome, we aim for a family atmosphere where guests and volunteers all sit together to share lunch. As Apetito kindly donate all the dinners and Elior provide the dining facilities, catering staff and cakes, the main job for volunteers is to make our guests feel welcome and provide company.”

Baroness Scott of Bybrook OBE, Leader of Wiltshire Council, said: “We’re delighted to once again host this really worthwhile lunch event in the Atrium at County Hall, as no one should be alone on Christmas Day. We recognise that this event helps many people to come together to celebrate the day and enjoy a wonderful Christmas lunch. I would like to extend my thanks to all the volunteers who work so hard to plan and deliver this very special event. I know many staff from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, Wiltshire Council and Company for Christmas give up their time to help make the day such a success.”

If you would like to support Company for Christmas, the team are keen to hear from volunteers who are willing to:

Prior to the event, volunteers are also needed to help with leaflet drops, putting up posters, and collecting/sorting gift donations. On Saturday 23 December, the team will be setting up the Atrium at County Hall and additional help between 9.30am and 12noon would be very welcome.

Kate said: “This year, we will be opening the doors at 10am on Christmas morning for volunteers and hope that all guests will be at the Atrium by 11.30am ready for lunch to start at 12noon. After lunch there will be a raffle and singing, and our guests will be taken home with their gift bags around 3pm. Volunteers will be needed for the tidying up and hopefully we will all be home by 4pm.”

The team is asking for donations of non-perishable items for the gift bags, such as boxes of biscuits and chocolates, coffee and tea bags, selection packs, toys, hats and scarf sets, socks and tights, slippers and toiletry gift sets; these can be handed in at County Hall. If you would like to make a monetary donation, the details are A/C no. 87345811, Sort code: 09-01-28.

Anyone wishing to book a lunch as a guest or volunteer can phone 07934 172734 or 07734 483881.

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