PICTURE GALLERY: Volunteers bring festive cheer at Yarmouth Open Christmas

PUBLISHED: 15:40 25 December 2011

Open Christmas at the Marina Centre in Great Yarmouth on Christmas Day. 

25th December 2011

Picture: James Bass

Open Christmas at the Marina Centre in Great Yarmouth on Christmas Day. 25th December 2011 Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

Festive cheer was brought to people who may otherwise have spent the day alone at Great Yarmouth Open Christmas.

Kind-hearted volunteers served Christmas dinners and organised musical entertainment at the Marina Centre to make the days of elderly, homeless and other lonely people across the borough.

And the volunteers who give up their time to make the celebration possible say they are delighted to be giving people a Christmas.

Michael Hope, the man behind the event, said: “It’s just great seeing people enjoy themselves and that’s why we do it.

“There are quite a lot of people who just don’t have a Christmas otherwise - people who have had break-ups or other trouble - and we give them a Christmas.”

Open Christmas catered for around 300 people, and they were given bags of donated tins of food afterwards to enjoy at home.

The gesture of goodwill is in its 15th year in Great Yarmouth, and guests say they are very grateful to the people who brighten their Christmas.

Mary Wallace, 82 of Manor Croft, said: “I’ve been coming here for years and I can’t thank them enough. It makes my Christmas.”

Wendy Martin, 74 of Ormesby St Margaret, has been to the last five Open Christmases and says she meets new friends each year.

“It’s fantastic and I would have been coming for even longer if I had known about it,” she said. “So many people give up their time and it’s absolutely wonderful.

“If I was younger I would offer to help myself.”

She was helped to the event by a volunteer driver from Martham, who brought elderly people from the villages into Yarmouth for the social event.

Dot Dent, 71 of Martham, has been to the last six Open Christmases and added: “It’s good company and it makes our Christmas Day. We always come now.”

Mayor Barry Colman, who mingled with guests at the event, said it is very important to remember those who cannot spend Christmas Day with their family.

“Christmas is a double-edged sword as it’s a time for families but it can bring back sad memories for some people,” he said. “So it’s nice that people can get together here.

“They do a fantastic job and it’s nice that anybody can come.”

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