HUNDREDS of Christmases were brightened this year by Wantage charity champ Ray Collins and his elves.

More than 70 guests and helpers attended this year's Christmas dinner for the lonely and another 127 festive hampers were sent out to families and individuals.

In total Mr Collins estimated his team brought a little extra Christmas magic to some 300 children and adults.

But the star on this year's tree was Monday's meal, hosted for the first time by Grove Rugby Club after the Wantage Health and Wellbeing Centre was shut in September.

The move not only rescued the dinner, but also saw rugby club players and staff lend a hand with cooking and serving on the day.

Mr Collins, who manages Peter Ledbury electricals in Wantage, said: "What a totally inspiring Christmas Day we all had.

"This is our fourth Christmas dinner for this amazing group of people. Thanks to Chris McCarthy, Roger Williams and all the members at the club for not only allowing us to use their club but for paying for the food and drinks along with Grove Tesco enabling us to keep this meal free to all the guests.

"Everyone at the club went above and beyond – Phil Connolly and his team of cooks worked tirelessly to produce a magnificent four-course dinner."

As usual, the 50 diners were picked up from their homes between 10am and 11am by a team of volunteer drivers.

On arrival, the guests were seated and brought a beverage of their choice.

At 12pm dinner was served: homemade tomato and red pepper soup followed by a turkey and beef dinner with all the trimmings.

For desert there was Christmas pudding, sponge and custard, cheese and crackers or tea, coffee, soft drinks and sherry.

They were even entertained by musicians from Wantage Silver Band.

Mr Collins added: "All the rugby club ladies who volunteered to serve our guests were fantastic, friendly and engaging – nothing was too much trouble, everyone went home stuffed full, happy and with huge beaming smiles."

Among the feedback from happy customers, one said it was the 'best Christmas dinner he ever had', and another joked: "I’m so full I won’t be able to move for a week."

One diner called Harry said: "I’ve had a lovely day, a lovely meal and a good talk with some lovely ladies. It’s certainly better than sitting at home alone."

After the success of the day, Mr Collins is now hoping to host all his future festive feasts at the club, including his Easter Sunday lunch.

He said: "It’s always a bit daunting moving venues especially one that has served us so well but going to Grove Rugby Club has been one of the best decisions we have ever made. I can’t wait until Easter now."