Lunch club opens with a Christmas feast

December 2012

Guests attending Vianney's in Hartlepool could never have imagined that the four course Christmas lunch they sat down to enjoy had been prepared by a brand new team of volunteers in their first lunch club venture together. Roast turkey with all the trimmings, crackers, gifts and Christmas carols sung by a choir were all on the menu as the lunch club opened its doors for the first time at St John Vianney's church hall recently.

The team of volunteers had an early start, arriving at the church hall at 8am to begin the preparations, local chef Tony Davidson was greeted by a transformed parish hall decorated and prepared ready to welcome Christmas Lunch guests.

Everything was perfect when the guests arrived from the local community to enjoy the meal and entertainment, free of charge, each one delighted to be able to spend time in the company of others and share some of the traditions of Christmas together. Guests and volunteers shared a warm welcome and celebrated together with crackers and a Christmas quiz. Everyone joined in with a selection of Christmas carols sung in harmony by members of a local choir, directed by volunteer Brenda .

Guests voiced their gratitude to the volunteers for the wonderful time they had, with one lady commenting,
"I'm housebound and don't get to church much, but I had a lift here today. It's so lovely to be in such nice company and the dinner and entertainment were first class,"

However, it wasn't just the guests who were thrilled to be involved in Vianney's first ever lunch club. "It's lovely to see so many people enjoying themselves in the church hall. We've had a lovely time and I can't wait to come back," said one volunteer. "Christmas has come early for me. Today is a reminder of how useful I can be and what a joy it is to be helping with all my friends,"added another.

Vianney's is the most recent addition to St Cuthbert's Care's PACE (Parish and Community Enablement) initiative which sets up projects for vulnerable, elderly and lonely people around the region. Each project is run by volunteers and supported by the local parish and St Cuthberts Care.

From Tuesday, January 8, Vianney's will be held every week in St John Vianney's church hall on King Oswy Drive in Hartlepool between 11am and 2pm. Morning and afternoon refreshments, lunch and entertainment costs just £3 per person. If you or anyone you know would like to come along, would like more information about the lunch club or would like to know how to volunteer, please ring 01429 281420.