'Good fun by all': Café serves free turkey dinners for those alone on Christmas

Guests pull crackers at French's Cafe in Hornchurch on Christmas Day.

Guests pull crackers at French's Cafe in Hornchurch on Christmas Day. - Credit: Phoebe French

Goodwill was the order of the day once again at French’s Café on Christmas. 

Approximately 30 guests spent December 25 at the North Street café, being waited upon and entertained by Mark French and his children – Isabel, Phoebe and Charlie. 

This is third time the family have opened their doors to anyone “who finds themselves alone” at Christmastime; they started running the free dinners in 2018, but were unable to do so last year due to the lockdown. 

Cafe owner Mark French said the event had been "taken to people’s hearts".

Cafe owner Mark French said the event had been "taken to people’s hearts". - Credit: Phoebe French

Mark said the atmosphere this year was “better than ever” and “good fun was had by all”, with the last guests staying until roughly 7pm. 

Attendees were served a three-course meal, took part in a name-the-famous-face competition and answered questions in a general knowledge quiz. 

“There’s some really lovely people that came along this year who came along the year before, it’s great to talk to them – everyone has got a story," Mark said.

Approximately 30 people attended Christmas dinner at French's Cafe.

Approximately 30 people attended Christmas dinner at French's Cafe. - Credit: Phoebe French

“I think it spoke volumes that we filled the place up; it’s something that was taken to people’s hearts and they wanted to take part in it." 

Most Read

Son Charlie helped Mark in the kitchen while his daughters worked front of house, serving drinks and making sure the day ran smoothly. 

Phoebe and Isabel also made trips out to deliver dinners to four people who were unable to attend the event. 

As in previous years, the family were too tired by the end of the day to have a Christmas dinner for themselves, and instead sat down to cheese and crackers before heading home and to bed. 

“I saved myself for Boxing Day,” Mark laughed. 

This is the third time the French family have served free Christmas dinners from their cafe on Christmas Day.

This is the third time the French family have served free Christmas dinners from their cafe on Christmas Day. - Credit: Phoebe French

A number of volunteer drivers also helped out, shuttling guests between their homes and the café. However, some attendees were keen to make their own way, with one man insisting on walking from Noak Hill on Christmas morning. 

Mark said he hoped the event would run again in 2022, but noted: “I can’t expect my family to do it every year because they are only young." 

He added they may “need a few more people” to volunteer if they are to run the event again.