Always room for one more at this inn
For the past 40 years, Te Aro resident Geoffrey Trethewey has served Christmas lunch to those who had nowhere else to go.
The former podiatrist arrived at the Aro Valley Community Centre about 8.30am for the Room at the Inn annual Christmas lunch.
For four hours he helped prepare 300 plates of chicken, ham and all the trimmings, half of which were delivered to people unable to leave their homes.
The hall was crammed by 12.30pm, with more than 130 diners celebrating Christmas.
Mr Trethewey hardly remembers the first time he volunteered - a friend asked him to come along, so he did.
And after seeing the joy and gratification on the faces of the guests, it became his Christmas tradition. "I enjoy it. I know a lot of people who come here."
By about 4pm the work was done and Mr Trethewey planned to go to Lower Hutt to visit family.
Among the diners was Miramar resident Robert MacDonald, who has attended the lunch for the past four years.
He enjoyed the friendly and relaxed atmosphere, and said it was a good opportunity to get out of his house and spend time with other people.
The busker, who plays the melodeon and wind piano and can often be found in Lambton Quay, said he was always impressed by the standard of the food.
The diners were treated to the musical offerings of accordion player Jimmy McGuinness, who has travelled from Timaru to attend the Christmas lunch for the past 36 years.
He played a mix of Christmas and other traditional songs, which helped to provide an upbeat atmosphere for the party, he said.
This was the 49th year that the annual Christmas lunch had been held.
Organiser Rob Mayo said the Room at the Inn event could not happen without the help of volunteers to organise food and donations, cook and serve the food, and take it to people confined to their homes.
This year the meal cost about $6000, which the registered charity raised throughout the year. It also received donations, including from Kaibosh Food Rescue.
He planned to hold a party next year for the volunteers to thank them for their efforts.
The Dominion Post