Everyone’s welcome at this festive table

Headshot of Shannon Smith
Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
Steve Marshall is preparing for the Free Community Christmas Luncheon this Christmas Day.
Camera IconSteve Marshall is preparing for the Free Community Christmas Luncheon this Christmas Day. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

For whatever reason you may come to Albany’s free Christmas lunch — whether you are a widower, traveller or ex-prisoner or whatever it might be — there is a seat for you at the table.

While many people spend Christmas surrounded by their family, the annual Free Community Christmas Luncheon recognises that for whatever reason, some can find themselves away from loved ones.

The Free Community Christmas Luncheon has brought together thousands of people in Albany for the past 15 years and next week will be no different. From noon on Christmas Day, about 400 people are expected to gather at the PCYC for a festive meal.

Organisers Steve and Karen Marshall said the event showed how a community could come together and put their differences aside.

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“The motivation behind it is for everyone to drop their nonsense, political correctness, egos and hidden agendas to come together in community spirit for one day of the year,” he said.

“Over the years, we have seen a whole range of people from all walks of life, from the backpackers and the wandering nomads around Australia, even business people that didn’t have a Christmas to go to, right down to people that have no access to their kids.

“I have someone coming who lost their husband seven weeks ago. It is beautiful to see how everyone works together as a big family.”

The lunch extends to emergency service workers who are working on Christmas Day.

The Marshalls also deliver meals to those who cannot handle big crowds but still deserve the generous Christmas gift.

They started the tradition 45 years ago in Rockingham and brought the event to Albany when they moved to the city in 2005.

“It was just for the down-and-outs and the hard done by people, but I quickly realised that I needed to modify it for anyone that was alone or lonely at Christmas,” he said.

“Albany is without a doubt one of the greatest cities of the world for generosity and kindness.

“Without that we couldn’t do what we do.”

Father Christmas will make an appearance at the luncheon.

People can register on 0412 850 105 at www.christmasluncheon.org or by contacting the office of Peter Watson MLA.

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