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Flood-hit Yalding residents enjoy the Kent Messenger's Feast for the flooded Christmas meal

By Kent Messenger reporter

Around 60 people today sat down today for the Christmas meal they never managed to have when floods struck in December.

The Kent Messenger's Feast for the Flooded dinner has taken place. It is the culmination of weeks of planning by staff at the newspaper - in conjunction with the catering department at Mid Kent College.

The idea for a belated Christmas feast came from the Kent Messenger team. It was organised by reporter James Walker, who had spent time in Yalding reporting on the devastation.

Terry Smith, Tom Milton, Jill Smith and Gwen Milton at the KM's Feast for the Flooded meal

On Christmas eve waters rose so much that many had to be evacuated and spent several days in temporary accommodation.

Others, such as Gwen and Tom Milton, who were at the meal, lived for two days in the upstairs part of their home as they bid a hasty retreat from the submerged downstairs.

Any notions of having the traditional turkey and trimmings was abandoned.

Gwen said: "It was harsh but the only thing you can do is get on with it and try and keep your sense of humour about it."

She added: "Today has been lovely - we have thoroughly enjoyed it and what a great idea."

Left to right: Wendy Little, Alan Franks, Kathleen Neate and Regina and Derek Foxley at the Feast for the Flooded Christmas meal

Derek and Regina Foxley, of Benover Road, made do with scrambled eggs as their lunch on December 25.

The meal took the form of a three-course dinner in The Apprentice restaurant at Mid Kent College. Youngsters studying for a catering qualification gave up their Sunday to serve and the restaurant was decked out in Christmas decorations.

Video: Yalding residents get their Christmas dinner in May

Christmas tunes came courtesy of Saxophonist Dirk Wickenden, while Nu Venture arranged transport to and from Yalding.

Drink was donated by Shepherd Neame, Biddenden Vineyard, while food donations came courtesy of the Paddock Wood Community Stores and Waitrose. Hotel Olympia provided festive crackers.

All gave their services - or products - for free.

See the Kent Messenger on Friday, May 9, for more coverage.

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