Making Memories… Giving Hope

Hungry children will be spoiled with delicious Christmas food at CHICKS this year


CHICKS provides free week-long residential respite breaks for hundreds of children every year. This year, a lucky few will be able to come to our Daleside Retreat in Derbyshire for a special Christmas break from 23 to 27 December. We are opening our doors to 16 children living in the most desperately difficult circumstances to be spoiled with the festive treats they deserve.

In this series of articles first published by the Ashbourne News Telegraph, discover how CHICKS will be making Christmas wishes come true with a sprinkling of sprouts and a little bit of magic, and how you can help us.

For the first in our Christmas 2019 series, click here to meet Adam.

This week, meet CHICKS' cook, Dawn Kenny.

“The children who come to CHICKS for Christmas must have the most desperate home lives, so it feels special to be able to do something for them – to bring a little bit of warmth to their days and magic to their mealtimes. This is my first Christmas cooking for them, as I joined CHICKS as a cook earlier this year.

“Generally, my weeks are spent cooking wholesome dishes like chilli con carne, roast pork with all the trimmings, and a yummy cooked breakfast on a Friday. This year, as my children are grown up and it's just me and my husband at home, I thought it would be nice to spend my Christmas cooking for the children at CHICKS!

Dawn serving food alongside two children
Dawn serving roast dinner with two enthusiastic helpers

“I want to make it feel like a traditional family Christmas. We'll be baking gingerbread houses and decorating them with bright icing and sweets... then demolishing them and eating them with hot chocolates, I expect! For Christmas Eve I'm planning a big buffet, because we'll be busy getting ready for Christmas Day and they'll be playing games and hoping Father Christmas finds them at the CHICKS retreat (I am confident he will!).

“On Christmas Day, we'll pull the tables together so we get one long table like a big family, and have Christmas dinner with all the trimmings – including sprouts! We'll make it fun and have a joke with them about the sprouts – there's no escaping them, they're tradition! I'm making some decorations to go in the centre of each of the tables; I saw an idea on Pinterest to do place names like a cracker with sweets in the middle, so I'm going to make one of them for each of the children.

“On Boxing Day, they're going to the panto. I know from the tales I've heard of past CHICKS Christmases that the children love the theatre, and they'll be treated to a meal out too.

“As long as I can make them feel at home, see them enjoy some traditional Christmas food and plenty of special treats, then I'll be happy we've done a good job. It'll be nice to see them spoiled, just a little.”

Give a child the best gift they could have wished for this year. Click here to make a donation.

Dawn's gingerbread house recipe
Dawn's gingerbread house recipe (click to view larger)

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