02:31PM, Monday 25 December 2017
The Prime Minister Theresa May had a message of community and optimism for guests at the Maidenhead Christians Christmas lunch earlier today.
The MP for Maidenhead has attended the event, which allows those out of contact with their families to socialise and enjoy a proper dinner, every year since she was elected in 1997.
She was joined by Mayor John Lenton (Cons, Horton and Wraysbury) and his wife Margaret and about 60 people who faced being alone on Christmas Day.
The event is organised by community group Churches Together in Maidenhead and held at SportsAble in Braywick Road, with help from dozens of volunteers.
Mrs May arrived at about 12.30pm with her husband Philip, and chatted to guests sat at long tables before they tucked in to Christmas dinner.
She gave a short speech thanking volunteers and wishing all a merry Christmas.
Later she added: “It’s really about community, and about the Maidenhead community coming together and making sure those people who, for whatever reason, may not have their family and friends around them and are not left on their own over Christmas.
“I’m looking forward to the New Year and I’m optimistic for the future, for my constituents and nationally as well.”
The Prime Minister was presented with flowers by Roy Wakelin from Maidenhead.
The 79-year-old explained: “I’ve been coming here with my wife for many years.
“But since she died around five years ago she [Prime Minister] always asks how I am.”
Guests were then served their traditional meal, accompanied by live music.
Food was donated from a range of groups based in the area - the Rotary Club Maidenhead Thames, the Lions Club of Maidenhead and the Advertiser’s Cracker Appeal.
The chairman of Churches Together in Maidenhead, Andrew Fleet, thanked volunteers for all their hard work.
He added: “What I enjoy is helping all the people and seeing the smile it can put on their faces.”
Ed Dale from High Wycombe has been volunteering at the event since the very start.
The 36-year-old said: “We do it as a family every year.
“I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do.
“It’s what Christmas is all about really.”
Maidenhead and Slough travellers have long been waiting for the arrival of Crossrail to whisk them quickly into central London.