Working on Christmas Day
PUBLISHED: 21:48 06 December 2014 | UPDATED: 21:48 06 December 2014
Manu Palomeque 07977074797
For most of us Christmas is a time to be with family and to luxuriate in a well-earned national holiday. But as you’re settling down for The Queen’s Speech, spare a thought for those in Kent for whom it’s just another working day
Owner of Eastwell Manor, Ashford
“I might have to work on Christmas Day, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get into the Christmas spirit,” says Turrloo Parrett.
And he really does; guests choosing to stay at this beautiful country hotel near Ashford get a special visitor this time of year. Eastwell Manor’s owner, aka Santa.
“On Christmas Day, everyone here will get to see Santa. For me, it’s one of the perks of working this time of year that I get to dress up as Father Christmas and give out presents to the guests.
“I love the look you see on their faces, especially the children. I see it as part of our job to make the atmosphere here at Eastwell feel truly seasonal.”
Along with a huge Christmas tree in the main reception, which even non-guests come to admire, smaller trees are also scattered around the house, all in an effort to create that magical seasonal feel.
“We have carols, Christmas music, traditional food, pretty much anything you would want at this time of year” says Turrloo. “I think this is the reason why so many of our guests come back here and love their time at Eastwell. It’s actually a wonderful place to spend Christmas.”
And does Turrloo mind working on the one day of the year that most of us can expect to have off?
“I enjoy being part of so many people’s Christmases. But let’s not forget that it’s not just me working here, there are all the other people who work at the hotel too. We always try to make the day a bit special for them too and hopefully we do just that.”
The Rev’d Mark Brown
Vicar of St Peter and St Paul Parish Church, Tonbridge
For the clergy, Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year. And Christmas Day is certainly no exception.
“And for us it starts very early,” says Rev’d Mark Brown, who is also the Rural Dean and a keen music lover. In fact, it starts at the very beginning of the day.
“The traditional midnight Holy Communion marks the point when our Christmas celebrations start.
“And so we spend the first part of the day celebrating with parishioners and then cleaning and locking up the church.”
After a little sleep and some precious time with his family, Mark then has to prepare for the first service of the day.
“We have an 8am service on Christmas morning, which means me starting the preparations around 7am. There is usually a good attendance for this one, perhaps as many as 40 people at times. Everyone is in a good mood and I enjoy the service.”
After this it’s off home for a bit of time with the family and then back out a few hours later to prepare for the 10am service.
“This is the day’s big one. We have a turnout of around 250 people.
“There’s a real party atmosphere. Lots of friends and family come to this service and we all have a really great time.”
And after the service is completed, Mark’s day job is pretty much done.
“I then get to go home and enjoy some quality time with my wife Allison, our five children and two mad Springer spaniels; to have the kind of Christmas that other people are also enjoying.”
Despite working for most of the morning, Mark still looks forward to Christmas Day.
“It’s a great day for the church,” he says. “We have large turnouts and peoples’ spiritual antennae’s tends to be far more receptive to our message.
“Yes, it can be tiring (in fact, much of December is like that) but it’s a truly happy day and one that I love being part of, getting to share in the collective joy of so many people.”
Firefighter, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, Tovil
“Working on Christmas Day can vary year to year. Sometimes we have quiet days and others it can be pretty busy. Last year in particular comes to mind,” says Mark Woodward, a firefighter at Kent Fire and Rescue Service in Tovil.
For a lot of people in Kent, last Christmas was a pretty miserable time.
Storms and torrential rain caused flooding across the county. For the men and women of the fire service this meant a very busy time over the holiday period.
“I was on call last year and spent most of Christmas Eve and a big part of Christmas morning dealing with some of the many problems that the weather gave us. It was a really busy time for the Fire and Rescue service,” says Mark.
“The flooding and the storm damage was quite extreme and it happened at a really difficult time for many people.”
Despite the hard work, and the fact that the terrible weather took Mark away from his family, he was still happy to do what he could to help people in their hour of need.
“We’re here to keep people safe. Last year was tough but we got out into Kent and did what we could to mitigate against the worst effects of the weather. And we’ll be on hand to do the same this year.
“Hopefully things won’t be as bad, but even if they are you can depend on us to be on hand to make sure there’s always someone you can call.”
Head chef, The Windmill, Hollingbourne
Christmas dinner might be an integral part of the seasonal experience, but for a growing number of people the effort involved just isn’t worth it. Because, let’s face it, spending the entirely of Christmas morning as a slave to the kitchen is not the most enticing of experiences.
And so more and more of us are now having our lunches at pubs and restaurants. Places like The Windmill in Hollingbourne, where Will Devlin is head chef. “The growing popularity of eating out at Christmas obviously means that there are more people, like me, working. Christmas is always a busy time of the year for us,” says Will.
“From Christmas parties, work celebrations, friends and family meeting up for the festive season and now we have busier Christmas Days too. The reality is that we are running at full speed from 1 December until mid January.”
Will has been head chef at The Windmill since it opened in 2012. The role essentially is everything food related, from devising menus, staffing, sourcing the produce to working with the suppliers.
“Day to day I do my best to make sure the food it perfect for the customer every time. We have a great team here, strong talented chefs and they all work really hard to make things right.”
So what’s it like working in a busy pub on Christmas Day? “I have got used to it over the years although my fiancée still finds it hard! As chefs we are all used to working when others are out enjoying themselves. Christmas Day is no different.
“It’s our time to make sure people have the best Christmas dinner they’ve ever had. And actually, it can be really good fun. It’s the biggest day of the year but we all pull together to make it as enjoyable as we can.”
Palliative Care Nurse Specialist for chYps, Dartford, www.chyps.org
“For the seriously ill babies, children and young people and families that I work with, Christmas can be a tough time,” admits Debbie Carroll. “They want their children at home but, with their life-limiting and life-threatening illnessess, this is something that can be difficult.
“This is where nurses like me come in. We are there to give support and assess symptoms and do everything possible to ensure that these families have as normal a Christmas as possible.”
This vitally important 24/7 service, provides hospice care in the comfort and privacy of the family home for 200 children and their families each year, free of charge.
To do this, chYps Children’s Hospice at Home is hugely dependent on donations, legacies, gifts and fundraising activities.
Debbie has been at the centre for the past 11 years and has worked several Christmas Days. Although there are downsides, such as missing out on time with her family, Debbie regards what she does as vital.
“We really make a difference to families. A few years ago one family with a very sick child had their feeding tube fall out on four separate occasions. Every time it happened, I went over there to put it back in.
“Without our service, they would’ve had to have spent Christmas back in hospital, which is bad enough at the best of times. Parents tell us how precious it is to be able to stay together as a family at home and to have some normality, thanks to chYps.” n