Canterbury homeless community served a festive treat

Army reservist soldiers from the 3rd Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, once again, volunteered this year to cook and serve up a festive treat for Canterbury’s homeless community.

It’s going to be hard to step back – I thoroughly enjoy doing this. Over the years we have served up more than 350 Christmas dinners for the homeless. All the food and everything you see here has been donated by local businesses. COLOUR SERGEANT HARRIS,
3RD BATTALION PRINCESS OF WALES’S ROYAL REGIMENT

Cooking for 50 covers Colour Sergeant Paul Harris and his team of chefs got to work preparing a starter of soup followed by a full traditional turkey roast then Christmas pudding and mince pies in the kitchen at the homeless charity ‘Catching Lives’ centre in Canterbury.

Paul has been involved from the outset, some seven years ago, of what has become a firm annual festive favourite for his battalion; and although personally a little saddened, this being his last as he retires from Army Reserve service having completed 39 years.

He said, “It’s going to be hard to step back – I thoroughly enjoy doing this. Over the years we have served up more than 350 Christmas dinners for the homeless. All the food and everything you see here has been donated by local businesses.”

Of course, no Christmas treat is complete without carols and a few sing-a-long festive favourites, so a ten-piece ensemble from the Band of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment struck up with a musical accompaniment as the clients tucked in.

Of the several officers and troops serving Private Ciara Lonergan was one and for her, it was the first time she’d attended the event. “This a really nice thing to do, for everyone to have a Christmas dinner.”

This a really nice thing to do, for everyone to have a Christmas dinner. Private Lonergan,
3rd Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment

Tasmin Maitland is the Chief Executive of the homeless charity Catching Lives that operates the drop-in centre, Tasmin said, “It’s been amazing, the food is amazing, the music is lovely people have really enjoyed the day great to have the opportunity for the Army to come in and serve people here. We do have so some veterans (armed forces) here, and people who use the services available here are from all walks of life, and different parts of the community. The temperatures have really dropped this week and you notice an increase in footfall, especially in the run-up to Christmas.”

Having finished his dinner, Steve, one of the clients spoke of his enjoyment of the day “That’s the first Christmas dinner I’ve had in four years and the music, it’s really good I think most people appreciate it. I’ve been coming here since July; I live in my car with my dog – she’s not here today, a shame because she’d have loved this. It’s excellent, I really can’t commend it enough.”