VOLUNTEERS are once again preparing to sprinkle a little festive cheer by serving up free Christmas Day meals to about 100 guests at Musselburgh Baptist Church Hall.

This is the third year the event has been held at the church, on New Street, on December 25.

Sarah Shearer, whose husband Graham is pastor, said Wednesday’s three-course dinner, including turkey and all the trimmings, had places for 100 people in total.

The invitation is extended to those who will be on their own during the festive season, residents in financial crisis, the bereaved or families which have split up and cannot afford a Christmas meal.

Mrs Shearer said: “We hope the number of people wishing to attend will keep rising and we can provide transport if needed. We had 70 people last year and would love to increase that this year.

“We have single parent families joining us for the first time this year. It is all about people just wanting to feel part of the community. There is no criteria for attending, we have an open door policy.”

She added: “It is to ease the burden and for people to feel the Christmas spirit and be looked after, and go home and enjoy Christmas with their own families.”

A team of 15 volunteers will support the event, which is funded by donations. In the kitchen will be Mrs Shearer and Naomi Matthews, who has also made up gift bags for guests.

Mr and Mrs Shearer’s own five children are looking forward to the event, held from noon to 3.30pm.

A Basics Bank is held at the church each Thursday, 10am-noon, offering food donations to people who are officially referred, but ‘blessings bags’ containing food are also given out to those in need.