Sidmouth cafe to serve free hot drinks, cake and companionship on Christmas Day

A generous helping of kindness and compassion is on the menu at a Sidmouth cafe serving free hot drinks and cake on Christmas Day.

The Dairy Shop owner, John Hammond, and his family, are to spend Christmas afternoon in the Church Street café and delicatessen serving free tea, coffee and cake to anyone coming through the door.

John said Christmas Day can be a difficult time for a number of reasons, and the café offered a place to escape, relax and find companionship – but stressed chatting was optional.

He will be joined by his family, wife Kirsty, her mum, Marie Borra, and the couple’s two teenage children, Alex, 17, and Will, 14.

John, 43, will open The Dairy Shop from 12.30pm until 2.30pm, after he and his family has been to the morning church service.

He said: “It’s really nice, rather than that gluttonous Christmas of sitting in front of the TV, serving people on Christmas day.

“We are doing it as a family. We get back in time for the Queen’s speech.

“It’s nice to do something if we can make a difference to people on Christmas Day.
“It can be overwhelming. We know people who are bereaved or by themselves and the last thing they want to do is to celebrate. They want be on their own or have someone to come around.”

John said The Dairy Shop was offering an escape and place to relax for anyone feeling hemmed in by Christmas, who may need some space and solace.

Free tea and coffee will be served, and cake made by volunteers from All Saints Church.

Depending on the weather the Christmas Day café can be busy, or attract a few out for a walk if wet, said John.

“It’s a lovely atmosphere, it’s really chilled and relaxed. It’s like sitting in your grandma’s kitchen,” he said.

“It’s got a really lovely feel to it. It’s changed the way we look at Christmas. When you serve other people rather than just have a commercial Christmas, it just makes you appreciate what you have more.”


John Hammond, pictured here, will be serving free tea, coffee and cake at The Dairy Shop on Christmas Day.
Photo: EastDevonNews.

The idea of opening up on December 25 and inviting in the community was formed four years ago after a chance conversation with a friend.

John said it hit home how hard the festive season can be when the friend said they had shopped in Spar on Christmas Day, admitting it was the only time they had someone to speak to, while all around were celebrating with families and friends.

“It can be quite overwhelming. Or if you are by yourself, loneliness can be the hardest thing to cope with,” said John.

“We know there are people who are by themselves and they won’t go to the Christmas community lunch because it’s not their thing.”


The Dairy Shop, in Church Street, Sidmouth. Photo: EastDevonNews.


“It’s a lovely atmosphere, it’s really chilled and relaxed. It’s like sitting in your grandma’s kitchen.”
Photo: EastDevonNews.

  • The Dairy Shop, in Church Street, Sidmouth, is open on Christmas Day, December 25, from 12.30pm until 2.30pm, serving free tea, coffee and cake. All are welcome.

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