A big-hearted business is hosting a Christmas Day lunch and party for those who would otherwise be alone on December 25 at Princes Hall in Aldershot – and all are invited, free of charge!
Haulage firm Hi-Speed Services is based in Ash Vale, but has strong roots in the Farnham and Alton areas – and all those aged 16 and over across the Herald area are very welcome to sign up for the lunch.
Hi-Speed owner Ian Dawkins – who previously lived in Runfold and Medstead before recently moving to Fleet, and whose step-son is Farnham Rants founder and roofer Lee Moran – launched the lunch on the simple premise that “no-one should be alone on Christmas Day”.
And it isn’t the first time Ian's company has come good for charity, having raised more than £22,000 to provide 1,000 ‘survival packs’ to staff at Frimley Park Hospital during the first Covid lockdown.
Hi-Speed staff have also taken part in every Phyllis Tuckwell Santa Fun Run since its inception as well as this year’s London Marathon for the Farnham-based hospice.
Ian added the Christmas lunch was conceived after a friend of his was having a “really hard time” at Christmas last year, “but was too embarrassed to come around and spend Christmas with us”.
So instead, he decided to organise a big Christmas lunch for everyone in the same boat – and has already signed up more than 100 people, with space for around 100 more.
He also had offers of help from around 100 volunteers, many of whom he was surprised to discover will also be alone this Christmas.
Hi-Speed is organising the Christmas Day lunch in partnership with several local charities and businesses.
Alf Turner Butchers is donating up to 150 turkeys, and the two-course lunch will be cooked free of charge by Clark Caterers. Entertainment will also be provided by Britain’s Got Talent winners Collabro.
Aldershot Town FC club chaplain Mike Pusey will also be leading prayers on the day, and the Koox Agency has offered great support with marketing and event management.
There will be two sittings on the day from midday to 2.30pm and 3pm to 5.30pm, and vegetarian and vegan options are also available.
There will also be a minibus available for those who are unable to transport themselves to the Princes Hall – and dinners can be delivered to homes too for those unable to travel.
Guests with disabilities can take a carer with them to join them as a guest for lunch.
But there will be no alcohol available at the event.
Such has been the success of the inaugural Christmas Day lunch that Ian now hopes it will become an annual event.
He said: “There are lots of lunches and events for people on their own around Christmas – but very few on Christmas Day, which is a real problem.
“The day itself is so important, and we’d love to hold this lunch every year.
“I’ll be having my usual Christmas Day on Boxing Day!”
For more information or to request a place, visit the website hispeed.co.uk/xmas-lunch or call 07786 135633.
* Churches Together’s traditional Christmas Day lunch at the Brightwells Gostrey Centre in Farnham will not be going ahead this year because of the “uncertainty around Covid”. The decision was made earlier this year at its annual meeting.
Anyone who would have attended the Brightwells Gostrey lunch is, though, very welcome to attend the Princes Hall gathering.