Husband and wife team Matt and Marta Gaskin staged a remarkable event on Christmas Day, providing Christmas lunch and entertainment for some 76 guests, many of whom might otherwise have been alone.
Read the heart-warming story below, and discover where the inspiration came from…
Marta Gaskin ready to welcome her 76 guests
Matt and Marta Gaskin have belonged to the St. Edward’s community for six years and both are sacristans in the Church. Matt explained how he and his wife were inspired to plan and organise this ambitious event:
Matt, who owns a computer business, said he thoroughly enjoys cooking and finds it relaxing, but admitted with a smile that he had never cooked for such a large number of guests before.
Planning began in September with Matt on the phone to friends and customers, very quickly securing offers of everything he needed to stage this special Christmas celebration. And ‘everything’ is quite a list, including turkey, pigs in blankets, vegetables, all the ‘trimmings’, soup ingredients, dairy produce and drinks. But that is not the end of the list, because Matt was also offered entertainment, raffle prizes, gifts, crackers, table cloths, napkins and decorations! A list of donors is included below.
A team of generous volunteers also came forward as a result of requests to family, friends and the public; whilst Matt had his mind on his catering challenge, Marta was busy with the organisation and coordination of the event, including publicity – some may have heard the announcements on Eagle Radio.
Food preparation began on Christmas Eve, with mountains of carrots to be peeled and brussels sprouts to be trimmed. The tables also had to be set up and the hall decorated. Somehow amongst all this activity the Gaskin family was also able to enjoy a Christmas Eve meal in the Polish tradition, with 12 non-meat dishes including carp and herring.
The big event
Christmas Day began early for Matt – he was in the hall at 5am! He would be cooking for 76, including two vegetarians, assisted by two others with another helper washing up. On the menu: Polish chicken soup, roast turkey and stuffing, roast potatoes, carrots, brussels sprouts, pigs in blankets, gravy, cranberry sauce and bread sauce.
Deacon Michael Phillips called in during the morning to wish the assembling team all the best in their various endeavours. The team, in addition to those already mentioned, included 12 drivers, two elves to welcome guests (one of whom we can reveal was Matt and Marta’s daughter) and 15 servers.
The guests began to arrive a little before 1pm, and took their places after receiving a warm welcome by Marta and her elf assistants. Before the meal, Marta spoke to all the guests from the stage, to explain the order of events planned for the afternoon. She then introduced Fr. Sebastian, who welcomed the guests and reminded them that Christmas is about God’s desire to be with us, explaining that ‘Emanuel’ means ‘God is with us’.
All the guests received a gift and were entertained with games during the afternoon. After the raffle, each guest was given a portion of lunch to take home – another treat for Boxing Day! As one of the guests commented “Isn’t that great? Now I don’t have to cook tomorrow either!”
Matt said that there was great appreciation by the guests and happiness amongst everyone present. By the time the party broke up towards the end of the afternoon, Matt admitted to feeling quite tired, but was clearly pleased with the outcome.
The couple plan to stage another Christmas lunch this year and have already booked St. Joseph’s Church Hall for the event. Amazingly, food and drink for 200 people have already been pledged by generous donors. Yes, Marta and Matt have decided to cater for 200 guests this year, taking advantage of the additional capacity available at St. Joseph’s!
Final words from Matt:
List of donors
Mayer Brown Ltd. – vegetables, milk, cream, etc.
Vincent’s Butchers – Turkey
Mack Entertainment – Pigs in blankets and entertainment on the day
Hunts Hill Farm – Pigs in Blankets
Lions Club – Ingredients for starter
Surrey Street Rodders – Raffle prizes
Bentley Brown – Crockery
The Shoulder of Mutton – All the drinks
G3M Ltd. – Juices
The Garden Cider Company
Christmas Bakery – mince pies
Waitrose – Christmas cake and Christmas pudding
Speciality Cakes – Christmas sponge cake
Laroma – Italian cake
Squisito – cooking trays and take-away containers
Perla Antica – large cooking pots
Various Public – Crackers, gifts
Unigold 2000 Ltd. – Cranberry sauce, bread sauce, table cloths, napkins, decorations, etc.