Volunteers make festive feast a success

Volunteers play part for Mayor's dinner

ALDEN WILLIAMS
Last updated 13:00 26/12/2013
Nelson Mayor's Dinner
ALDEN WILLIAMS/Fairfax NZ
GOOD WORK: Volunteers, Jeffery Westphal, Lauren Swift, centre, and Laura Westphal helping out in the kitchen.

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Carols, pavlova and an endless supply of Christmas cheer were on the menu at the annual Mayors' Christmas Dinner.

Stoke woman Sandra Maxfield, who along with husband Peter co-ordinated the event for the 16th time, and nearly 40 helpers gave up their Christmas Day so they could bring joy to others.

Mrs Maxfield said she had been expecting about 30 volunteers but had been "inundated with support". While some had a bit of downtime before service, they were all needed once food started to leave the kitchen.

Numerous festive treats like stuffed roast chicken, ham, roast pumpkin, boiled and roast potatoes and Christmas pudding were served to the 175 senior citizen guests.

While a last-minute change of venue from the closed Trafalgar Centre to the dining hall at Nelson College provided a few logistical challenges, everyone came to the party. Nelmac even installed a mobility ramp at the building's entrance on Christmas Eve.

The dining hall provided a few unexpected surprises, Mrs Maxfield said.

"At the Trafalgar Centre, we used the Victory Room for the entertainment like the Christmas carols, and the main stadium for the dinner, which means we have always been stuck away in the kitchen, so you have no idea what is going on in the Victory Room - but here, all the helpers can hear the singing while they work."

Along with a lot of hard work, which included peeling hundreds of potatoes and hours of preparation on Christmas Eve, the success of this year's event could also be attributed to new chef Tony Gutberlet, who ran a highly efficient team on the day, Mrs Maxfield said. "Tony has been amazing."

Following dinner, all the happy guests received a gift, including a few special gifts that were donated by the Interislander, Air New Zealand and World of WearableArt.

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