ARMY chefs served up platefuls of festive cheer to the homeless.

Cooks from the 16 Air Assault Brigade, based at Colchester’s Merville Barracks, give up their time to cook dinner once a week at Colchester Emergency Night Shelter.

They have been doing so since 2014, but wanted to make a special effort for Christmas.

They raised £950 to decorate the centre, serve up turkey with all the trimmings and buy presents for the residents, such as jumpers and toiletries.

Sergeant Ashley Jacobs, 33, said: “Cooking at the night shelter is a great way to use our skills as chefs to support people in need in the local community.

“Our junior chefs gain a different perspective on life from coming here and mixing with the residents. We always like to do something special at Christmas and people have been really generous supporting us.

“We’ve collected much more than we needed to pay for the meal so we’ve got funds to support our ongoing work.”

The voluntary project has also seen the chefs re-organise the centre’s kitchen and stock.

Lance Corporal Sam Godfrey, 25, said: “I really enjoy coming to cook at the homeless shelter.

“It’s good to help people who are less fortunate than we are and just need a little bit of support.

“To me Christmas is a time for being at home with your family and these guys haven’t necessarily got a family to go to, so we’re their family and we’re putting on a celebration for them.”

Marina Woodrow, Colchester Emergency Night Shelter manager, said it was the second time chefs from 16 Air Assault Brigade have organised a Christmas dinner.

She added: “It is truly the highlight of the festive programme.

“Our residents can find the holiday season difficult and the effort the chefs put in to creating a warm, welcoming and special experience is beyond words.

“We are exceptionally grateful for the support.”