09:27AM, Monday 30 December 2013
A tradition spanning 30 years saw the homeless, elderly and lonely come together for lunch on Christmas Day.
The SportsAble centre in Braywick Road was filled with more than 60 guests on Wednesday, December 25 who were invited to enjoy a full turkey dinner and entertainment organised by Maidenhead Churches Together.
Making an appearance at the event was Maidenhead MP and home secretary Theresa May who spoke to the guests individually along with Mayor Andrew Jenner, attending his fourth engagement of the day.
After the lunch, cooked by Churches Together volunteers, the diners enjoyed entertainment from singers Charles Luxford and Margaret Probyn accompanied by Derek Holland on the keyboard.
This was followed by watching the Queen’s Speech and a sing-a-long session of Christmas carols.
Theresa May said: “It is a fantastic community event and it means so much to each one of these people that they have companionship and friendship on Christmas Day.”
Transport for those unable to get to the event independently was also provided by the organisers, many of whom volunteered to collect guests from their homes.
Organiser Tony Weeks said: "There are a lot of people who are alone at Christmas and they are normally the elderly.
He added: “We think this lunch is very important because these people don’t get many opportunities to go out.”
For the last three years the homeless have also been welcomed to the event and Churches Together also made provisions for them to take food away.
Donations to fund the lunch were provided by charities including the Prince Philip Trust, The Maidenhead Lions, the Kaffirs of Cookham Dean, and the Advertiser Cracker Appeal.
For the first time in the lunch’s history an International Peace Light took pride of place in the dining room.
The light, which holds a strong religious significance, contains a flame which was originally lit in Bethlehem.
It is the first time a light of this kind has visited Maidenhead.
Paramedics were called to the scene of a medical emergency in Maidenhead on Monday morning (June 27).
All lines are currently blocked between Reading and London Paddington stations due to a person being hit by a train.