Our Story

We believe our Melksham Christmas Dinner was God's idea, an idea he put in the mind of Core Church founding-member, Gavin Owen.

“It all began over Christmas Dinner. I was sitting in a very nice restaurant with my very nice wife and her very nice family, having a very nice time eating very nice food. And then it happened, a question popped-into my head out of nowhere (that's often the way God speaks to me). “What are you doing sitting here with just your family when there are so many people who would love to join you if you invited them?” he asked me. That was all I needed to hear, I didn't bother asking “why me?” or “what am I supposed to do about it?” I had a very clear picture of what to do.”

Melksham Christmas Dinner at Melksham Assembly Hall

“I figured that if this was God's plan then everything we needed would fall into place. So in January I spoke to Jan Porter, who was then the manager of Melksham Assembly Hall, and asked her if we could use the building next Christmas Day. It took her only moments to reply that she thought what we were proposing was a great idea. We were worried about being overrun with guests that first year, so instead of advertising the event publicly we sent details to local doctors, care agencies and other professionals but this resulted in a disappointingly low turnout. Still convinced that the idea was right, the next year (2008) we advertised in the Melksham Independent News, they ran an article about what we were doing and fifty guests plus volunteers sat down to a wonderful Christmas Dinner.”

Melksham Christmas Dinner at Melksham Assembly Hall

“Since then there's been no stopping us and our story is one of how all our needs have been met without us even having to ask people for help. Because of that first newspaper article our local butcher, Mike Newman, phoned up and generously offered to supply us with as many turkeys as we needed. Without stopping to think, I explained to Mike that we'd been planning to use turkey breast rolls so that we would need less oven space and the meat would be easier to serve. Turkey breast rolls are more expensive than whole turkeys but Mike offered to supply us with as many rolls as we needed and he has continued to do so ever since.”

Melksham Christmas Dinner at Melksham Assembly Hall

“It became apparent that some of our guests would need help getting to the assembly hall so I asked a neighbour if he knew which taxi firms operated in Melksham on Christmas Day. The next thing I knew he was offering to arrange for a minibus to be loaned to us and on Christmas Eve a minibus was duly delivered to me and the same local firm has supplied a minibus every year since!”

“Over the years many local people and businesses have contacted me to offer us all kinds of things from cakes and drinks to crackers and napkins to centre pieces and candles. Each year the staff at the Assembly Hall have give up their own time to help us set up the room on Christmas Eve and every year people contact me to offer their help as serving, hosting and tidying up on Christmas Day.”

Melksham Christmas Dinner at Melksham Assembly Hall

“In 2013 I received a phone call from Waitrose suggesting that we apply for funding from a campaign they had started to tackle isolation at Christmas and they kindly gave us £1,000 which was very timely as increasing numbers meant that we were desperately in need of more crockery and cutlery to add to that which had been donated to us by a catering equipment hire company that was shutting down. Waitrose donated another £500 in 2017, again unprompted by us.”

“2013 was also the year that Angela of Food Glorious Food offered to make puddings for us. Until then we had bought all of our desserts and when Angela heard this she said that if we bought the Christmas Puddings she would supply everything else. Her puddings were so delicious that I was asked repeatedly where we had got them from and I was delighted when Angela contacted me after Christmas to say that she would help out again in 2014 and she has been making puddings for us ever since.”

“In 2016 we had 200 guests and helpers on Christmas Day and we realised this was too many to feed in one go, so in 2017 we decided to have two sittings – 12pm and 3pm – which proved to be a great success.”

“I can honestly say that the Christmases I have spent at the Assembly Hall are the best ones I've ever had and I look forward to many more. God's plan has made a difference to many people and that is what Christmas is really for.”