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Cricketers Inn in Wrotham Road stepped in to help when families lost power

30 December 2013
by Thom Morris

The nightmare storm before Christmas failed to dampen the spirits of those without power in Meopham when a make-shift community Christmas was arranged.

As torrential rain and gusts of up to 80mph battered the county on the evening of December 23, people in the Meopham Green area lost their power at about 9.30pm.

When they awoke on Christmas Eve, the power remained out and would do so until Boxing Day.

The gang at the Cricketers Inn

The gang at the Cricketers Inn with head chef Laura Purnell front and Paul Giles behind her

Meopham resident Peter Hasler said he feared Christmas Day would be ruined until Cricketers Inn boss Paul Giles stepped into the role of Father Christmas.

His pub and restaurant, on Wrotham Road, had lost power too - but there was help from the church.

Mr Hasler, of Pitfield Drive, said: “There were rumours of a temporary stand-by generator being installed but nothing materialised.

"That afternoon, Paul was faced with a serious dilemma - he had bookings for 100 guests for Christmas dinner but there was no certainty of power.

“He was able to gain the use of St John’s Church Hall and after checking the catering facilities with his staff, he rang all those people who had made a booking to tell them of the necessary change of venue.

“Sharp on Christmas morning, the chefs went into action and other staff started setting up the hall tables for two sessions, not only for those who had booked and didn’t mind the change but also for those in the area without power.

"The delicious three course lunch was served up to well over 100 guests.

Christmas dinner in the church hall

Christmas dinner in the church hall

“In difficult circumstances, it was a magnificent effort by Paul and his staff and a very thoughtful gesture to those suffering loss of power.”

Cricketers boss Paul Giles said: “We didn’t want to let anyone down and it was all very last minute. I’m amazed we pulled it off really. We didn’t charge anyone, this was about lives rather than livelihood. There's a lot of elderly and young families nearby and we wanted to make sure they were OK.

“I’ve got to give so much credit to my staff and my head chef Laura Purnell. It was a great day and probably one of the best Christmases I’ve had really.

“We would like to put on record our overwhelming thanks to St John’s church for providing us with a brilliant venue, Mr Robinson from Harvel who drove all our bits around in his can, the main man, and Pop’s from Nurstead Court.

"We are very proud of you amazing people. It was a show of true community spirit.”

Christmas dinner in the church hall

Christmas dinner in the church hall

At the height of the storms more than 150,000 properties power were cut off across the country.

UK Power Network said it will write to all customers by the end of next week who are eligible for compensation.

The firm said it would will increase payments from £27 to £75 for those affected on Christmas Day.

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