Melvyn Thomas, community centre manager for the Salvation Army

Picture: Shutterstock

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Preparations for Christmas began for me in September with rehearsals for Carols at the Kings.

Carolling with the band started in earnest on the first Saturday in December in Palmerston Road, Southsea, when temperatures were well in keeping as we played In the Bleak Midwinter.

At this time of the year I have one of the best jobs around. The people of Portsmouth have been so kind and generous.

I have received financial donations, gifts, toys and Christmas luxuries and so many have been made aware of the need through articles placed in The News. Schools, dental surgeries, butchers, the University of Portsmouth and individuals have made donations and all this makes me feel very humble.

The Salvation Army in Southsea will be open on Christmas Day caring for 80 elderly or lonely people, inviting them to share the Christmas service and then making sure that the day is special for them too.

I anticipate that we will have helped in excess of 250 adults and children this year with gifts and food.

In this busy season I look forward to Christmas Eve – time to relax at last, attend the midnight service and focus on the real meaning of Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus.

This Christmas will be tinged with sadness as my father passed away during the year and the family will miss him dearly.

My hopes for 2011 are that as a city we care for those in our community showing love and compassion for those around us. We know that it will be difficult in the current economic climate, but I am sure that the city I love will deal with these challenges. Finally may I take this opportunity to wish all News readers a happy, peaceful and blessed new year.