A HUGE team of volunteers came together this Christmas to make sure no one was left during the festive celebrations.

More than 80 residents who would have otherwise spent the holiday by themselves were invited to the Memorial Hall, in Witham, to enjoy a festive meal surrounded by new friends.

The event was organised by Andrew Coy and wife Karen with a large seasonal helping hand from Kim Barker of the Royal British Legion’s Witham branch.

The couple said the idea came about after the death of Karen’s mother towards the end of 2017 inspired the couple to give up their time to volunteer for the Salvation Army in Colchester on Christmas Day.

Mrs Coy said: “I think it was then that we realised how much of an issue being lonely on Christmas Day is – it was never something which we’d really thought about up to that point.

“So we want this to be something which creates friendships for people which will last long after the day itself is over.”

Mr Coy said: “I think the Christmas Day in Colchester was the real reason for wanting do something in Witham too.

“Looking back at it, it gave us an idea of what to do and what not to do.

“In the future, it might be something which we look to do on a larger scale.”

A number of town centre stores came forward to help with supplies for the day, with Tesco, Boots and Specsavers among those to offer a helping hand and gifts, while the Tea Rooms, in Newland Street, supplied the all important mince pies.

Buntings Food, which is based in Coggeshall, supplied four turkeys, plenty of sprouts and all the trimmings.

The day was supported by volunteers who also came forward to help with serving up the meals and transporting residents to and from the hall in Newland Street.

Mrs Coy said: “There is a helper on each table and they will be there to get the conversation flowing – that was something we were very aware of during the planning.

“Plenty of the helpers are people who might have been alone themselves on Christmas Day so it’s a real community event.”