Businessman Jamie Farrell is a volunteer with the local food poverty charity the Ken Smollen Food Appeal.

Volunteers to deliver free Christmas dinners 'from Mullingar to Tullamore'

A big-hearted local businessman who is delivering free cooked Christmas dinners to 220 families in the Midlands says that he and his team of helpers will have to pull an all-nighter to make sure that they have enough food for everyone.

Jamie Farrell, proprietor of Jamie's Costcutter shop and filling station in Tyrrellspass, wants to ensure that no family "from Mullingar to Tullamore, and everywhere in between," will go without a good meal this Christmas Day.

For past four Christmases, Jamie and a number of his suppliers joined the local food poverty charity the Ken Smollen Food Appeal to provide food hampers to hundreds of local families.

With the founder of the charity, former Offaly councillor Ken Smollen, taking a step back due to health reasons, Jamie says he decided that he and his team would cook dinners and deliver them to people on Christmas Eve.

Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner yesterday, Jamie says that due to the high number of people looking for help, he doesn't expect to get sleep this Saturday night.

At the time of writing, on Monday afternoon, over 160 families had contacted him looking for help. However, earlier this morning (Tuesday), Jamie posted on the shop's Facebook page that the figure had jumped to 220 and that "unfortunately, we are not in a position to take any more orders for Christmas dinners".

"This is simply down to the logistics of trying to get the dinners delivered it would be impossible to accept more orders."

Jamie told the paper yesterday that the ovens in the shop's deli will be working overtime in the coming days and sleep will be in short supply.

"At this point we won't be going to sleep on the night of 23rd going into the 24th. I think we will have to start delivering dinners between three and half four in them morning on the 24th to be able to get them delivered.

"I want to try and get back to the shop at a reasonable time, because Christmas Eve is an important day of business."

Jamie says that the he has been touched by the amount of people who have offered to deliver dinners, but he has had to say no and will deliver the dinners himself.

"Confidentiality is paramount. Loads of people have offered to help, but I couldn't accept."

Jamie says that he wouldn't be able to undertake such a mammoth task if it wasn't for the support of a few of the shops main suppliers, such as Premier Frozen Foods, BWG Foods, Gaelpac and the Tullamore business Up Close and Personal Entertainment, which is a "huge sponsor".

While most of us will be winding down in advance of the big day, Jamie and a team of around 12 people made up of some of the sponsors, family members and a couple of staff members will be busy ensuring that everyone who needs a Christmas dinner gets one.

"We are not going to leave anyone behind. We are going to do everything we can to get to everyone by Christmas Eve. Even it means getting out early on Christmas Eve morning we are going to cover the area that needs to be covered."