Your generosity helps to bring a little festive cheer
THE true spirit of Christmas shone on December 25 when less fortunate residents of Ashford were treated to Christmas lunch.
Organised by the Ashford Salvation Army and helped by an army of about 100 volunteers, people enjoyed a three-course lunch, games and a food parcel to keep them going until next year; contents courtesy of the joint Salvation Army and Kentish Express Christmas Present Appeal.
Smithy Drive resident Devsiri Hewavidana volunteered to act as a taxi driver for the day, ferrying folk to the East Stour primary school where the event was held.
His passengers included Stanhope couple Dorothy and Malcolm along with Kennington father and son Douglas and Mark.
Manufacturing engineer Mr Hewavidana said: “Douglas and Mark told me they were living alone and had been to the Salvation Army event last year and thoroughly enjoyed it.
“Malcolm and Dorothy told me that being a disabled couple they never get to go out so they were looking forward to having a great day.
“To my surprise the Mayor, John Holland, and the Mayoress arrived. He went round the tables shaking hands with guests and talking to them.
“My guest Malcolm was so overwhelmed he started to cry saying he had never met a mayor in his life and this was a red letter day for him.”
By lunchtime guests enjoyed their dinner coupled with carols played on the piano by young volunteers.
Father-of-three Mr Hewavidana added: “I noticed how the elderly people were joining in with the songs and clapping and cheering.
“They were having a wonderful time. One lady of 85 told me that she had five children and 12 grandchildren, all married now.
“When she said none of them had invited her for Christmas I felt very sad.
“Another elderly gentleman told me that he used to work as a nurse for 30 years.
“His children all live in Ashford and they rarely see him. Only one had bothered to send him a card. He was ever so grateful to the Salvation Army.”
After the dinner and entertainment, which included Mr Hewavidana’s six-year-old son Dinum dancing, guests listened to the Queen’s speech. It was then time to say goodbye for another year. Every guest was given a carrier bag full of food and goodies donated by KE readers.