Christmas cracker for less fortunate

THERE was something of a party mood as the Marina Centre in Great Yarmouth opened its doors to 250 people for its 12th Open Christmas Lunch.The event had been planned for weeks by organisers Mike and Rosie Hope, who have forsaken their Christmas Day to organise the annual event.

THERE was something of a party mood as the Marina Centre in Great Yarmouth opened its doors to 250 people for its 12th Open Christmas Lunch.

The event had been planned for weeks by organisers Mike and Rosie Hope, who have forsaken their Christmas Day to organise the annual event. But the hard work began for the Hopes and their team on Christmas Eve with the cooking of 20 large turkeys and the peeling of four sacks of potatoes.

The centre's Piazza Suite was festooned with bright decorations and guests were tucking into their turkey while being entertained by an array of musical entertainment.

Mike, 68, a retired IBM manager, who lives at Thurton, near Loddon, said: “Most of the people who come have mental health problems or learning difficulties. They are mostly single and would otherwise be on their own over Christmas.”


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Volunteer helpers included Angela and Paul Buttifant and their children Chloe, 10, Ella, nine, and Zak, eight, recruited through the town's Park Baptist Church.

Mrs Buttifant said: “It's a good Christian thing to help others over Christmas and it's better than sitting at home watching television.”

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Yarmouth Mayor Terry Easter, who dropped in, said: “It is marvellous to see people giving up their time over Christmas to help others like this.”

Forty turkeys, 20 for the Open Christmas in Norwich, were donated by Bernard Matthews and the rest of the food was supplied by Buckingham Emergency Food Appeal (BEFA), a charity run by Norfolk couple Polly and Peter Bowles.

Mike and Rosie sat down to their Christmas meal with their family on Christmas evening. They rely on donations to raise the �3,000 needed to pay for the Yarmouth event together with another on held in Norwich.

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