Our Christmas Dinner 2017

Christmas Day is a time for family, fun and indulgence. But for many living in isolation it’s just another day!

Well, it used to be, but not for those who live in and around Wantage. Thanks to The Ray Collins Charitable Trust, over fifty local people living in isolation spent Christmas Day together with over twenty volunteers from the Trust and Grove RFC.

After the very sad closure of the Wantage Health and Wellbeing Centre last September, Ray Collins moved the Christmas Day Dinner to Grove RFC.

All the guests were picked up between 10-11am by the Trust’s volunteer drivers and dropped off at Grove RFC. On arrival everyone was seated and volunteers brought them their beverage of choice.

A special thanks to the Harvey family, Mrs Austen and trustee Mel Breakspear who sat and chatted with our dinner guests to ease a few nerves.

At 12pm dinner was served:
– Homemade Tomato and Red Pepper soup
– Turkey and Beef Dinner with all the trimmings
– Xmas pudding or choice of sponge & custard
– Cheese & Crackers
– Tea, coffee, soft drinks and sherry

All the Grove RFC ladies who volunteered to serve our guests were fantastic, friendly and engaging. Nothing was too much trouble. Everyone went home stuffed full, happy and with huge beaming smiles.

As an added treat, all the dinner guests left with a box of chocolates kindly donated by Ultra Home Services.

After the meal Ray explained to the guests how over five cold weekends more than thirty volunteers collected 4000 items! These 22 trolley loads of goodies were donated by Waitrose customers, to make the hampers all the Trust’s Christmas dinner guests received.

Another thirty volunteers counted and sorted all the items and made the hampers: 127 in total.

Most went to individuals via the local Police team, The October Club and the dinner guests. But for the first time, twenty-five hampers went to local families.

All the guests enjoyed great food, great service, great company and a great big hamper to take home.

Musicians from the Wantage Silver Band popped along to play carols, which just added more Christmas magic to what was a perfect day.

Grove RFC players past and present turned up and carried hampers to the cars for our guests.

Afterwards, Ray Collins said, “What a totally inspiring Xmas Day we have all had at Grove Rugby Club today. This is our fourth Christmas Dinner for this amazing group of people. Thanks to Chris McCarthy, chairman of the club, and deputy Mayor Roger Williams, and all the members at the club for not only allowing us to use their club but for paying for the food and drinks along with Grove Tesco’s enabling us to keep this meal free to all the guests.”

“Everyone at The club went above and beyond today. Phil Connolly and his team of cooks worked tirelessly to produce a magnificent four course dinner.”

Testimonials from our dinner guests

“Best Christmas Dinner I’ve ever had” ~ Darren

“Delicious food and such lovely friendly people. Thank you very much, Mr Collins and all your team” ~ Iris

“I’m so full I won’t be able to move for a week. Absolutely loved the whole day. Thank you everyone involved” ~ Elizabeth.

“I’ve had a lovely day, a lovely meal and a good talk with some lovely ladies. It’s certainly better than sitting at home alone.” ~ Harry

Thank you

“It’s always a bit daunting moving venues, especially one that has served us so well. But going to Grove Rugby Club has been one of the best decisions we have ever made. I can’t wait until Easter now!” said Ray.

A huge thank you to all the wonderful drivers Will Harvey, Sarah Crayford, Giles Bedford, Roddy Bedford, John Durban, Russell Stock, Mrs Stock, Paul Belcher, Emma Ralson, Les & Jan Bury and Barry Steers for all their hard work.

A massive thank you to Day and Night Assistance, Tesco Grove, Grove RFC, Waitrose Wantage, Peter B Ledbury Ltd, Costcutter Rowes, Acorn Timber, PR Building Services, Progressive Physiotherapy and Challow & Childrey Cricket club, and all our wonderful volunteers who made this year’s dinner and hamper appeal another huge success.

Between all the individual hampers, family hampers and the dinner, nearly 300 local people’s Christmas has been significantly improved. And if that isn’t a merry Christmas, I don’t know what is!

We are here to make a real difference in our community and with your continued support we definitely do.

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