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‘Christmas is all about giving - Hundreds enjoy Great Yarmouth’s Open Christmas

PUBLISHED: 15:24 25 December 2018 | UPDATED: 15:24 25 December 2018

Pandora Pape and John Kirk with their dog at Great Yarmouth's Open Christmas

Pandora Pape and John Kirk with their dog at Great Yarmouth's Open Christmas

Archant

Around 500 vulnerable people were treated to a warm meal, company and presents this Christmas thanks to the selfless work of an army of dedicated volunteers.

Pandora Pape and John Kirk with their dog at Great Yarmouth's Open ChristmasPandora Pape and John Kirk with their dog at Great Yarmouth's Open Christmas

Great Yarmouth’s annual Open Christmas lunch returned to the Marine Centre, on the Golden Mile, for its 22nd year.

One man who was grateful of the opportunity to enjoy a hot meal inside was 39-year-old David.

Volunteer Kathy Bell at Great Yarmouth's open ChristmasVolunteer Kathy Bell at Great Yarmouth's open Christmas

David, who goes by the name Ghost, has been homeless for three years.

He said: “I woke up this morning in my tent. It was icy, damp and there was condensation inside from the frost.

A St John's Ambulance volunteer celebrating Christmas with people in need at Great Yarmouth's open ChristmasA St John's Ambulance volunteer celebrating Christmas with people in need at Great Yarmouth's open Christmas

“I had slept in my clothes and wrapped in blankets.

“This is brilliant, it were not for this I would be sitting in a tent. This gives me somewhere to go which is warm, inviting and safe at Christmas.

A group of people ready for their Christmas dinner at Great Yarmouth's open ChristmasA group of people ready for their Christmas dinner at Great Yarmouth's open Christmas

“I’m very grateful for what they have given me.”

The 39-year-old added: “The company is brilliant. It’s an escape from reality, from the harshness and loneliness.

Volunteer David Minister at Great Yarmouth's open ChristmasVolunteer David Minister at Great Yarmouth's open Christmas

“I’ve come out to enjoy what is on offer but also to show solidarity. I would be stuffed without it.”

Along with a free hot meal, guests enjoyed live music, a goodie-bag of food, bingo, raffle and a free jumble sale.

A family of volunteers enjoying Christmas with people in need at Great Yarmouth's open ChristmasA family of volunteers enjoying Christmas with people in need at Great Yarmouth's open Christmas

Organiser David Minister estimated 500 people would be served throughout the day said while he was pleased to help he was down heartened by the number of people are in need over the festive period.

He said: “Hopefully they all have a good Christmas Day, some are homeless and others are struggling. It’s good, but in many other ways it is still sad.”

A family enjoying their Christmas lunch at Great Yarmouth's Open ChristmasA family enjoying their Christmas lunch at Great Yarmouth's Open Christmas

The annual charity meal is cherished not only by those who are in need but by the volunteers also.

Kathy Bell has been helping out at Open Christmas since her husband passed away.

She said: “I have done it every year since my husband died five years ago.

“I enjoy it – it’s very humbling. Some of the people here don’t have anywhere to go for a roast dinner and some of them are just glad to come inside and be out of the cold.”

Ms Bell added: “Christmas is all about giving.”

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