Christmas to remember for city’s most vulnerable

Some of the volunteer servers ready at the Norwich Open Christmas event at St Andrews Hall, for the

Some of the volunteer servers ready at the Norwich Open Christmas event at St Andrews Hall, for the vulnerable and isolated. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

The spirit of goodwill was in abundance in Norwich as the city's most vulnerable and isolated people were treated to a traditional Christmas dinner.

The Norwich Open Christmas, now in its 25th year, offered a free meal and festive entertainment for anyone who was homeless or lonely during the festive period.

And it was made possible thanks to a team of 150 volunteers, who gave up their time to ensure that the 500 guests at St Andrew's Hall had a Christmas to remember.

For Marina Denny, 80, of Loddon, the event ensured that she would not have to spend the day alone.

She said: 'This is my first time here and it has been excellent. It is a wonderful place and everyone is so friendly here.

'I do have family, but they are doing their own thing this year. So something like this is very important for people living alone.'

A choir filled the hall with Christmas carols as volunteers served drinks and food to the guests.

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At the end of the dinner, people were able to take home a bag of non-perishable food and help themselves to donated clothing.

Open Christmas also paid for homeless guests to have a night in a nearby bed and breakfast.

Organisers Linda and Colin Harper have been running the dinner ever since their son Christopher died 17 years ago, aged 18.

Mrs Harper said: 'Not only do the volunteers provide a meal for people, it is also company for the day. No one should have to be alone at Christmas.'

Are you organising a community event? Call Luke Powell on 01603 772684.