Melksham chef Steven Roberts has become a real-life Santa Claus – donating and delivering all over Wiltshire more than 800 boxes of Christmas treats for the needy.

Steve, the owner of SR Dining, has travelled all over Wiltshire and the West this week to bring a bit of festive cheer to children in hospital, care home residents and the vulnerable and needy looked after by 10 regional charities.

“I wanted to give a little back,” said Steve.

Before the pandemic struck Steve was the head chef at the Whitehall Garden Centre in Lacock. But when the lockdown closed it Steve started another business, providing private dining at home for those who were missing dining out.

Said Steve: “SR Dining really took off during the lockdown, I’ve been massively busy as people really liked the idea of having a private chef who would come to their house to cook for them, wait on them and clean everything away afterwards.

“So I wanted to give something back. With help from my friends I delivered more than 800 Christmas selection boxes to people all over the place; Calne, Trowbridge, Chippenham, Bradford-On-Avon, Bath and Bristol.

“We gave boxes to children in hospital, old people’s homes, hospices, nurseries, food banks and charities looking after vulnerable children and those who have suffered from domestic violence.

“I started out buying £200-worth of selection boxes but then I realised that there were so many people who were in need of a little extra cheer, so I did an appeal for help and I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who contributed to the selection box fund.

“I’d like to give a huge thank you not only to everyone who helped us but also to everyone who works to help the vulnerable in the places we visited, their daily efforts are remarkable and they totally amazed us.

“We listened to some truly touching stories, so thank you all for your continued work in Wiltshire and the neighbouring communities. It was emotional and an eye-opener to discover how many people need help.

“I also want to send special thanks also goes to the Curtis-Smith brothers, Josh and Jack, who were pivotal in making this happen. We left in the dark, got home in the dark, loaded the car twice all whilst rushing around making sure we reached our allocated drop-off times. Without these two, it simply wouldn't have been possible.

“Now I plan on doing more for next year, this is just the start.”