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Packed hall for community Christmas dinner

December 26th, 2013
[by David Armstrong]

Motueka's Memorial Hall was close to packed yesterday as a broad range of local people and visitors of all ages sat down together to share a Christmas dinner and enjoy each other's company.

Just under 240 guests and about 60 volunteer hosts, cooks, servers and dishwashers made for a hugely successful first community dinner, and team leader and the originator of the project Rankeilor Arnott said it will certainly become an annual event.

Most of the guests, which included about 25 children and about as many over the age of 75, were people who would otherwise spend Christmas on their own, wanted to be with friends or could not easily afford the lavish food and treats on hand.

The event was staged officially by the community development group Vision Motueka, but the bulk of the organisation and work was done by Rankeilor and her team, many of whom were members of the St Andrews Church parish and other churches.

Rankeilor gladly acknowledged that it would not have been possible if it had not been for the generosity of time and heart offered by the volunteers and the donations of food, money and other treat and decorative items from individuals, businesses and community groups (see the list of donors photo at the end of this page).

The crowd were entertained through much of the two-hour event by Lyn Canton with carol singing, then the talented Linda Bartlett on guitar, the Samoan group working at Birdhurst, the Vanuatu string band, and Sean Delaney's whanau.

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne visited, breaking his busy day of official events. And after the desserts had been served, Santa dropped in to give presents to every child at the event.

Precedings were kept to a steady clip by the well organised servers who formed fast-moving lines of food delivery, while MC Mike Thorpe ran the programme in a delightfully relaxed but well organised manner.

Here is a selection of photos taken during the afternoon. Further photos can be seen on Vision Motueka's Facebook page, And if you'd like any of these photos in original, high-res form, just use the email link below to place your request.


The donated home-made Christmas cakes

All volunteers wore their Christmas cheer

MC Mike Thorpe (right) with Rev Peter Norman

Linda Bartlett entertains

The Birdhurst Samoan team entertain

The Vanuatu string band, who also work at Birdhurst

Sean Delaney (with guitar) and his whanau sing some favourites

The list of sponsors and donors, plus Grey Power (mistakenly omitted)


Comment by Katerina Seligman:
[Posted 27 December 2013]

The community Christmas dinner looks fantastic! CONGRATULATIONS for your part in it. Very heart-warming.

Comment by Linda Glew:
[Posted 3 January 2013]

An enormous effort by all concerned. Well done team. The community can feel proud to have such giving residents. Hope you are enjoying a deserved rest. Bless you all!

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