Great Yarmouth volunteers who provide Christmas meal to move to new room

Yarmouth Marina Centre's Annual Open Christmas for those who would otherwise spend the day alone.

Yarmouth Marina Centre's Annual Open Christmas for those who would otherwise spend the day alone. - Credit: Nick Butcher

For almost a quarter of a century the Open Christmas event in Great Yarmouth has offered a free meal, company and entertainment to people who enjoy a day of festive merriment.

Put on by volunteers who give up their time and funded through donations, over 300 vulnerable and lonely people are brought some Christmas cheer by the event.

Organisers of the event this year have said, however, things will be harder as they are moving to a new room.

The community event has been held in the Retroskate arena at the Marina Centre for decades.

This year's event will be held in the centre's sport hall instead.

One Open Christmas organiser David Minister said: 'The show will go on but it will be a lot harder.'

He dispelled rumours the event would be held in a smaller venue, adding: 'The sports hall is slightly bigger, it's a different size and shape but it was easier in Retroskate.

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'We now have to transport all the food from one end of the Marina Centre to the other.'

Director at Retroskate Donna Wicks said it had been an 'absolutely brilliant' thing to be involved with over the years, but logistically it had proved difficult this year.

She added: 'It's something that's put on by the community. We're a not for profit company and this costs a lot of money, it's the things people don't see.

'Logistically it has become more difficult because the size of the event has outgrown the size of the venue.'

The Marina Centre is run by Sentinel Leisure Trust.

The charity's director of business development, Chris Ames, said: 'Through our regular operational meetings with RetroSkate, it was asked if Sentinel and Open Christmas could look at an alternative venue or room for the event going forward.

'The event is a great and well loved local event, one that we want to continue supporting. The sports hall is a natural alternative and is one that we are working with Open Christmas to look to utilise this year.'

Mr Minister said despite the hoo-ha he was looking forward to the event, adding: 'For a lot of people this is their Christmas.'

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