Video: Volunteers bring Christmas cheer to the less fortunate in Norwich

The Christmas spirit was well and truly on show for some special festive lunches in Norwich today.

Volunteers gave up their time to make sure that Christmas lunch, with all the trimmings, was available for those who do not get to enjoy the sort of festivities that many are able to.

The 20th Norwich Open Christmas hosted people from all walks of life at St Andrew's Hall, while The Salvation Army Norwich Citadel Corps hosted another lunch at their St Giles Street base.

Some guests were homeless or living on the streets, some just didn't want to be alone on Christmas Day and some selflessly gave up their time to offer some company and conversation to those less fortunate than them.

There were 190 volunteers over two days for Norwich Open Christmas, starting with some from City College Norwich's hotel school cooking 22 turkeys, donated by Bernard Matthews Farms, and pre-cooking and preparing vegetables.

Peter Webber, 39, who lives in Lakenham, was one of the grateful guests. He said: 'I came down last year for the first time and enjoyed it. I live on my own so it's the company and seeing old friends that I like.

'The Christmas dinner is really nice and , if it wasn't for this, I would just be at home staring at the four walls.'

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After some on-stage entertainment and fun the guests were served a traditional Christmas lunch before hundreds of food parcels and donated clothes were given out.

Rachel Maddin, 36, who lives off the Aylsham Road, praised the efforts of the volunteers, saying: 'We are so grateful to them for giving their time to the less fortunate. I'd probably be miserable at home if I wasn't here as we can't afford decorations or anything.

'Our children live away from us so Christmas can be quite a low time and for this meal we get to get out and meet new people and be with old friends.'

Lord Mayor of Norwich, Jenny Lay, went along for her first visit to Norwich Open Christmas and said: 'I'm amazed, some of the volunteers have been doing this for years and I think it is just wonderful.

'There has been so much food and clothes donated, It shows that Norwich as a city does care about people less fortunate than themselves.'

Steve Clark, 46, from Thorpe St Andrew, took over the running of the event after 12 years of being run by Linda and Colin Cooper and was delighted with how it all went.

He added: 'The chance to sit and talk with the guests is one of the most important things the volunteers do, to make sure people have some company at Christmas.

'Even to step through the door of a big hall full of people like this is not easy for some people so we do are best to make everyone welcome, and for this to be our 20th year as well is just amazing.'

Did someone special help you this Christmas? Contact David Freezer on 01603 772418 or david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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