A FREE dinner for people who would otherwise be forced to spend Christmas alone could be cancelled after the chef has fallen ill.
Nearly 100 people are expecting to eat lunch on Christmas Day at an annual event organised by three community groups in Fareham.
But the chef brought in to prepare and cook the meal has had to pull out, leaving organisers with just days to find a replacement.
The lunch is for people who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day or without the chance of a hot dinner.
Lucy Docherty, a founder of the event and chairman of Fareham Good Neighbours, said: ‘Every year for the last five years, people all alone on Christmas Day in the Fareham area have been invited to a slap-up Christmas lunch organised by groups in the area.
‘Fareham Good Neighbours work hand-in-hand with Community Action Fareham and Christians Together in Fareham.
‘All three groups work with people who are isolated in the town and need someone to talk to and socialise with.
‘And it was the three groups which started this event. But this year may not happen because although we have our guests, our volunteers, lots of food, gifts and entertainers, we have no chef.
‘Our volunteer chef has had to pull out due to illness and we are left in a very difficult place.
‘We really don’t want to disappoint all the people who look forward to this event so much.’
Since the event started, numbers have grown and 90 people will be attending this year with 30 volunteers from the community organisations.
Lucy added: ‘Everyone who comes along, whether they are a guest or volunteering, has a fantastic time.
‘But more importantly it fills a very big, lonely hole in many people’s lives on Christmas Day.
‘Guests get to eat lunch, enjoy some entertainment, meet the Mayor of Fareham who always attends, and receive a gift before they are driven home by volunteers.’
The free event is sold out and is for people from Fareham whether in a couple or single.
Anyone who can help should call Jennie Romicheva, from Community Action Fareham, on 01329 231 899 or email firstname.lastname@example.org