Okehampton’s Ockment Centre hall buzzed with life on Saturday (November 26) and residents enjoyed one last community feast before Christmas and the beginning of the new year.

Residents enjoyed a special winter feast complete with soups, chili, pumpkin and apple pie alongside entertainment from Wren musicians.

After a slow start as Okehampton’s residents dared to brave the rain, children and adults visited the hall on the Saturday, which was decorated with festive lights, to enjoy an afternoon of cooking and socialisation before the main evening meal which saw scores of residents attend.

Greta Button, one of the organisers of the event, said: ‘The community feasts were started up by myself and Sarah Sheppherd about five years ago. We felt it would be lovely to invite anyone and everyone in Okehampton and surrounding areas to share food together on the understanding that if they enjoyed cooking and wanted to bring a dish to share that was lovely but if they came empty handed that was also just fine, the whole idea was sharing food with our friends and neighbours.

‘Five years on we have had some wonderful evenings of food, music and socialising (with a break over covid) around four times a year. Many who come have done so regularly over the past five years and those who join us comment that the food is often better than any restaurant given the wide range of lovingly prepared dishes that are offered. Recipes are swapped and friends are made.

‘We recently had some funding curtesy of Great Western Railway and All Together Okehampton allowing us to put on some children’s cooking, art and craft workshops and to fund extra food and music entertainment.’

This time Wren Music musicians Marilyn Tucker and Paul Wilson provided the evening’s entertainment and enchanted the hall with their clever puppeteering and accordion-playing skills.

They also put on a special music-making workshop for the children and their families to experiment with percussion instruments and leading them through a drum repetoire.

Following dessert and the necessary cups of tea and coffee, Wren Music then got diners moving with the Hokey Cokey and some folk dances which was enjoyed by adults and children alike.

Donations of food and basic necessities were also on offer, including coconut milk, crisps and tomato puree for anyone who is struggling to afford food and pay the bills.

Other Okehampton community groups, organisations and individuals have also risen to the challenge to help those struggling to cope.

Okehampton Library, the London Inn, the Ockment Centre and games arcade Immersion are now ‘warm spaces’ and the foodbank and Okehampton Community Kitchen are busier than ever.

Josh Ware, owner of the Future Bodies gym, has also organised a food drive to provide all foodbank users with a Christmas dinner this year.