Posted by Stella Gooch
Photos by Rob Coomber
Of all the Community initiatives I have known, the Dersingham Community Lunch is undoubtedly one of the most successful in bringing together all areas of the local community in a very enjoyable manner. Attendance numbers at the lunches were often 80 or 90 and people even had to be turned away on some events due to over-subscription. Sadly the highly enjoyable July 2011 lunch at Dersingham Social Club turned out to be the final Community Lunch due to the illness of its creator, Bob Tipling, and difficulties with booking venues.
However, the year rounded off with the Dersingham Community Lunch Christmas Dinner on Thursday, 8 December. The Le Strange Hotel was the venue for an elegant and entertaining evening and the dinner guests were turned out in all their glamorous glory – especially Acting Parish Clerk Rosie Kitchen who sported a stunning new hairstyle just for the occasion. I wonder how many didn’t recognise her!
The evening opened with a reception in the hotel lounge with a choice of sparkling wine, lager or orange juice and guests relaxed and mingled whilst their numbers grew to their full complement. The assembled guests were then escorted to the beautifully festive dining room and found their places.
Following grace led by Bob Tipling we were on to starters orders listening to the relaxing sounds of “Gentle Jazz” – courtesy of Rounce & Evans Estate Agents, Rounce & Evans Property Management and Dersingham Sub-Post Office. It was the ideal dining music and added to the ambience of the evening. I personally had the Chicken Liver Parfait starter and it was fantastic – a posh paté like I had never enjoyed before. The leisurely main course followed – mine was a tender Sirloin of Beef with lots of trimmings and the divine homemade Chocolate & Pecan Brownie was the crowning glory.
Bob then led us for a loyal toast and Santa Claus aka Fraser from the Post Office distributed wrapped gifts – courtesy of Thaxter’s Garden Centre & Coffee Shop, Prior’s Butchers and Hayes & Storr Solicitors – to the ladies amongst the gathering. In a surprising twist the gentlemen were given a sealed envelope and during Bob’s address were invited to open them simultaneously. Inside each of these envelopes were a lottery ticket and a card depicting a recognisable symbol from a standard deck of cards. Bob randomly asked two of our number to draw from a selection of cards and prizes of a bottle of gin and a mature Glenfiddich were awarded to the gentlemen who were holding the matching cards.
After the fun and games, Reggie Gray entertained us to his rather clever monologues thanks to the generosity of Wigram & Ware the opticians. The one I enjoyed the most was his trilogy about young Albert and his bizarre relationship with a lion. You have to hear it – I couldn’t possibly do it justice here! Bob thanked Reggie for his time and told us that Reggie performed his party piece to raise funds for the Polio Fellowship in Kings Lynn. So if you are looking for a different kind of entertainer just ask for Reggie at the Polio Fellowship. He won’t disappoint.
With a final push the raffle – made up of donations from the assembled group – broke the £100 mark and these funds were donated to “The Dersingham Day Centre for the Elderly”. Bob concluded the raffle draw by explaining that the Parish Council were hoping, although the Community Lunches were ended, that the spirit of the Community Lunches would continue in a different form by way of Dersingham groups and organisations regularly meeting up to continue sharing information, community spirit and general goodwill.
Once again, “Gentle Jazz” took up their instruments and entertained us with more festive tunes and encouraged us to sing with them.
Having organised such events in the past myself, I marvelled at how much Bob and his committee had achieved with nothing more than community spirit in putting together the evening. The organisation behind it was seamless and the catering staff at Le Strange were on the ball and attentive. All in all it was fantastic value for the £20 ticket us guests contributed. What a pity these lunches are no more but we can always hope that there might be an annual repeat of this evening starting next Christmas …. over to you Bob!