VOLUNTEERS left their presents and home comforts behind on Christmas Day to deliver tasty dinners to people throughout Haddington and surrounding villages.

More than a dozen kind souls helped Our Community Kitchen to prepare and deliver piping hot meals to about 30 people in the community, who also received gifts.

Turkey with all the trimmings, including roast potatoes, stuffing, parsnip and Brussels sprouts, were hand delivered, with some people even crying with gratitude.

Youngsters at Haddington Primary School and Knox Academy’s Meadowpark had also made Christmas cards for those receiving the meals.

Our Community Kitchen was formed in 2018 to tackle social isolation by bringing people together at Haddington Bowling Club for some food and a chat.

Elaine Gale, who founded the group, was full of praise for everyone involved with the project.

She told the Courier: “What a difference from last Christmas, when we all came around the table to eat together.

“Isolation is terrible and we will continue to look after everyone connected to Our Community Kitchen who receives a hot meal and people we now call at home.

“Our volunteer kindness callers are keeping connected to people at home during the festive season and beyond.

“It’s very hard for me to express just how much people at home mean to us all involved in Our Community Kitchen.”

Many of the volunteers dressed up as Santa to make their special festive delivery, with others making gifts such as Christmas baubles.

Lyn Hamilton, from the town’s Wee Red Upcycles, made individual Christmas cakes and chocolate truffles.

Ms Gale said: “Ali Hunton, who worked running the operation during the last lockdown, decorated all of our food bags.

“Many local business owners came forward to help, such as Joe and Norma Forte, who washed up in the kitchen, plus Diane and Andy Dowds from Easy PC, who delivered food/gifts and donated Christmas crackers for everyone.

“Both businesses also donated a generous amount of money to the charity too.

“Shiva and Shanthi from Haddington Wines and Whiskies donated wine for each gift bag and also sold us Prosecco for our volunteers at cost price.

“We have recently received some funds from Walk with Scott Foundation, Haddington Running Club, our volunteers and people who used to come around the table.”

The group has become a tremendous success but was forced to change its model when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Instead of getting people together round tables at the bowling club, volunteers prepared and delivered meals to people throughout the community.

Ms Gale thanked everyone for their continued support and was looking forward to the day when everyone could once again meet under the same roof.

She said: “There is a tremendous amount of effort from our volunteers and small staff team, without which we simply couldn’t run Our Community Kitchen.

“We can’t wait to eventually come back around the table as we used to, to bring the community together and to reduce isolation.”