Tania Murchie won’t be tucking into turkey at lunchtime on Chrustmas Day. If she’s lucky, she’ll make it home in time for the Queen’s Speech.
Tania is among a group of workers who will spend Christmas Day at work. The manager of Spar, in Longden Coleham, on the outskirts of Shrewsbury, will be at work before 10am and won’t knock off until 2pm.
During her four-hour shift, she’ll dispense bread, milk, gravy granules and other provisions. Tania’s assistant manager, Jamie Walsh, said: “There’s always somebody in on Christmas Day.
“The customers have usually forgotten things that they ought to have bought weeks ago. We’ve never had a customer come in and ask for a turkey, but there are loads who’ve forgotten basics like milk, bread, stuffing or the gravy. Booze and cigarettes also do a bomb. You’d think people would stock up before Christmas Day, but, in fact, they leave it until the last minute.”
Workers like Tania will not be alone. Emergency services crews, care workers, road gritters and other essential council workers will also be on call.
BBC Radio Shropshire DJs Paul Shuttleworth and Eric Smith will put in a shift on Christmas Day. Eric will broadcast the Breakfast Show from 6am to 10am while ‘Shuttsie’ will broadcast throughout the afternoon, from 2pm to 6pm, for BBC Shropshire, Stoke, Coventry and Warwickshire and Hereford and Worcester.
Eric said: “Do you know what, I absolutely love working on Christmas Day. Sure, I don’t like the early start – I’m up at 5am while the world’s asleep. But by the time the show starts, lots of children and their families are up and about. They want to share what they’re doing so they telephone the radio. It’s great fun because everybody’s so happy. By the time I get home at 11am, there’s already a turkey in the oven. I get the best of both worlds.”
DJ Shuttsie agrees: “I’ve worked 13 of the last 15 Christmases. I love it. This year, we’ll feature the people who are working and the things that they’re up to.
“We’re also doing a feature on things that bring the best Christmas smiles, as well as one on the most unusual place for Christmas dinner. I grew up above a hairdressing salon and I remember one year my family set up a trestle table in the salon and we all went downstairs for dinner next to the sinks. So we want to see whether anybody’s had dinner in a more unusual setting. Christmas Day is actually great fun if you’re working. There’s a sense that everyone’s in it together, people are unusually friendly.”
Inspector Mark Riley, of Shrewsbury Police, is a veteran of Christmas shifts, having worked the past three. He’s missed out on his young children opening their presents and had to microwave his turkey dinner at midnight, after a particularly long shift.
Inspector Riley said: “Christmas working is necessary, particularly for the emergency services. It’s our duty to keep the public safe and if there was no festive cover the crime rate would go through the roof.”
Around 50 of Inspector Riley’s colleagues will police Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin during the festive break. More than 30 of those will be based in Shrewsbury, working on eight-hour early morning, daytime and night shifts.
Inspector Riley said: “Christmas Day isn’t our busiest working day of the year and the atmosphere is always good on the shifts. If there’s time, the staff will try to find five minutes to send a text message to their family, to make sure they’re alright.
“There are usually not too many jobs – and occasionally something funny will happen. You’ll have to go and pick up the odd individual who is dressed like Father Christmas and didn’t make it home after an excited Christmas Eve night on the town. Generally speaking, members of the public are very pleasant to us on Christmas Day.”
Ambulance and fire crews will also be on patrol. Rob Marsh, a paramedic and Shropshire’s assistant area manager, will be working on Christmas Day. He said: “Christmas Day is actually a very busy day for ambulance crews. It usually follows an exceptionally busy Christmas Eve only matched by New Year’s Eve.
“The festive period is certainly the busiest time of the year for ambulance staff. At peak times we are expected to receive a 999 call every 30 seconds, so you can image that once we leave our ambulance station at the start of the shift, we won’t stop until it’s time to go home.
“There is the potential to be sent to just about every type of incident during the 12 hours of duty. Of course many of the calls will be alcohol related as the party season gets fully under way. I often say that we go to the best parties for all the wrong reasons. For many, Christmas is a fun time and we will also try to make the best of it doing a job we enjoy at this special time.”
Staff from Shropshire Council and Telford & Wrekin Council will also be on duty.
Council employees will be out in the community ensuring the safety of Shropshire’s most vulnerable.
As well as keeping our neighbourhoods and roads safe and ensuring public transport keeps on the move, officers will be out and about helping people in their own homes with cooking or personal and household tasks.
Staff will be supporting a number of people to visit graves and memorials over the festive period to pay respects and lay tributes.
Care staff at Kempsfield, a residential home in Shrewsbury for adults with learning disabilities, will be going that extra mile to ensure that residents have a great Christmas.
Liz Casson, registered services manager said: “The atmosphere at Kempsfield is lovely and we want to make it special for the people who live here, some of which don’t have any family, we are their family. Everyone is so happy and we all sit and eat Christmas dinner together. It is such a special time in the home I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
Shropshire Council’s Landlord Services will be supporting vulnerable older people living in sheltered schemes and vulnerable adults within the community, which may include homeless people.
The team will be working across four hub areas in north Shropshire – Oswestry, Wem, Market Drayton and Whitchurch – throughout the Christmas period.
Councillor Malcolm Price, cabinet member with responsibilities for housing, said: “Many of our employees will be working with vulnerable people across Shropshire in either homes or in the community throughout the festive season. I would like to thank the many people who will be working over the holiday to maintain the vital services that help keep Shropshire running.
“Staff will be working throughout the county over Christmas to provide essential services looking after our vulnerable people in Shropshire.”
Staff in the hospitality industry will be working hard, including those at Gwaenynog B’n’B, in Mid-Wales, a mile from Lake Vyrnwy. Chefs, waiters and waitresses and kitchen porters will also be on duty at the Goldstone Hall Hotel, in Market Drayton. Amber Taylor will be among the workers. She’s looking forward to it: “I think it’s good fun because we’re serving people their Christmas lunch, so there’s always a great atmosphere. We’ll have 11 people front of house, five chefs and two kitchen porters, so it’s a nice atmosphere. We’re happy to work.”