Organiser resigns after decade of giving to others

The band plays to a packed town hall at the Dunedin Community Christmas Dinner. PHOTO: STEPHEN...
The band plays to a packed town hall at the Dunedin Community Christmas Dinner. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The organiser of the Dunedin Community Christmas Dinner is stepping down after a decade of serving festive cheer to the community.

The event has been organised by the Acts of Kindness Charitable Trust since 2013, led by Grant and the late Anne Hardy, and their son Zachariah.

Grant Hardy.
Grant Hardy.

Planning often took place months in advance, Grant Hardy said.

"There’s a lot of detail, there’s funding, making sure you have enough volunteers, working with the caterers.

"I have to organise the food orders weeks ahead to avoid having problems with supply."

About 550 people attended yesterday’s afternoon dinner at the Dunedin Town Hall, while more than 150 volunteers assisted.

The purpose of the event was to provide a connection for those who would otherwise be alone or away from their family on Christmas Day.

"You get those who are sleeping rough to those who are living very comfortably.

"We accept a cross-section of humanity. We have people from all walks of life."

After Anne’s death earlier this year, there was some doubt that they would run the event, but the city council and other organisers pulled through.

Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich has supported the event through the Mayoral Fund.

"You change little things but essentially it’s the same in spirit each year," Mr Hardy said.

"It’s a tribute to the Dunedin community."

The Acts of Kindness Charitable Trust was "very small", he said.

"But because you engage with so many people, the whole is representative of all those little things. Collectively, you can create one very big thing."

Head chef Geoff Stewart said it took up to three days to prepare all the food for the event.

"Simple tasty food is what it’s all about."

This was his seventh time as head chef for the event, and he said it had always run pretty smoothly.

Any leftover food once the volunteers were fed would be delivered to charities such as Women’s Refuge and the Dunedin Night Shelter, he said.

Mr Hardy said he would hand over the organisation of the event to Dunedin Community House chief executive Rob Riddell Tigeir.

"The vehicle’s in good condition but it’s time for someone else to drive it."