Monday to Friday, Wantage Health and Wellbeing Centre provides a social environment and vital care services to the elderly in our community. This Easter, The Ray Collins Charitable Trust invited senior citizens living in isolation to celebrate with a delicious roast dinner and all the trimmings, musical entertainment and cheery banter.
Thanks to the generosity of Waitrose and the relentless energy and commitment of Ray, the Trustees and volunteers, 45 elderly members of our community shared a wonderful Easter Sunday dinner surrounded by friendly faces.
On Good Friday, Ray and a couple of the Trustees scanned the shelves of Waitrose for everything required to make a wonderful roast beef dinner with all the trimmings, followed by apple pie and custard, washed down with a glass of wine.
Ray and trustees unpacked the shopping at the Day Centre’s kitchen then joined by more volunteers re-arranged the furniture, blew up dozens of balloons, laid the tables and wrote out forty five Easter cards, all that was left was to make up the Easter Egg gifts for each of the guests. Over the last few weeks, over 900 eggs have been so generously donated by the wonderful people of Wantage; most have gone to a selection of worthy causes such as Fitzwaryn School, The October Club, Sweatbox and the John Radcliffe, but 45 of the larger ones were held back for the Easter Dinner guests.
A production line was quickly established with the first person cutting the cellophane sheet, the second placing the egg and other chocolate Easter treats on the sheet, another gathering up the cellophane and sealing it around the neck to create a parcel, whilst the last person finished it off beautifully with a ribbon and a bow – teamwork at its best. The results were spectacular, and the hall smelt wonderful too.
Once everything was prepared, the team of volunteers closed the doors on the Centre until Sunday…
Ray and the chefs arrived at 07.00 on Easter Sunday to start preparing the food, with further volunteers joining them at 08.00 on a vegetable peeling mission. By the time the drivers starting arriving for chauffeuring duties at 10.00, the wonderful smell of roast beef was wafting through the Centre, giving everyone a healthy appetite.
Seats started filling up as guests arrived and chose their favourite chair, and eager chatter filled the air. One by one places at the table were taken and a selection of drinks was served.
Anticipation grew as midday approached and the hatch was lifted to reveal the chefs, armed with carving knives and serving spoons, ready for service. Generous plates of beef roast dinner were dished up and delivered to guests by volunteers, some as young as 10 years old. Hearty jugs of gravy were placed on each of the tables and everyone tucked in to what was a delicious meal. No sooner had the dinners been devoured, than the homely aroma of apple pie and custard filled the air as pudding was served. This too was met with great enthusiasm, resulting in many empty plates and full bellies.
Whilst everyone was busy eating dinner, local folk band Pandemonium had been setting up their selection of instruments ready to entertain with melodeon, recorder, English concertina, bodhran (Irish hand drum), guitar, bass, violin, piccolo, Irish banjo and mandolin. Their enthusiasm was infectious as guests and volunteers alike joined in with the traditional sing-along melodies as they relaxed with their after dinner teas and coffees.
As time to go home approached, Ray took the microphone and thanked everyone for coming and asked the room to show their appreciation for the Trustees and volunteers for their help and support in making the event so successful. A beautiful Easter egg parcel was then delivered to each guest to take home with them.
Many of the happy and contented guests thanked Ray personally before catching lifts home with volunteer drivers, along with their chocolate gifts, ready for an afternoon nap!
Once the sound of washing up, clinking glasses, bursting balloons and hoovering subsided, the Centre seemed eerily quiet after the activity, laughter and excited chattering of the day. I think Ray and the 20 odd volunteers who gave up their time on Easter Sunday to make smiles and special memories for a few of the elderly in our community, were more than ready for an afternoon nap themselves!
Look out for details very soon of the BIGGEST COMMUNITY event of this and many a year when Wantage Standing Up To Cancer and The Wantage Carnival merge together on 10 July for an amazing extravaganza.
The Ray Collins Charitable Trust: “Making a real difference in our community”
Ray Collins Charitable Trust Easter Dinner 2016