Meet the woman who’s spent the last 24 Christmas Days cooking for kids at Alder Hey
3 months ago
When most people are busy opening their presents on Christmas morning, Linda Williams is getting the grill fired up in the kitchens of Alder Hey ready to cook breakfast for its young patients and staff.
The catering assistant has worked most Christmas Days throughout her 29-year career at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital – and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I offer to work on Christmas Day because I love it,” she says. “I’ve worked about 24 Christmas Days in all the years I’ve been at Alder Hey because I just love the atmosphere.
“It’s always such a lovely, happy place, but especially so at this time of year and I love it when all the kids come down to show you the toys and presents they’ve got.
“I love seeing the smiles on their faces. It’s brilliant… proper magic.”
Linda, 59, from Knotty Ash, originally did a signwriting course when she left school before becoming pregnant with her daughter Hayley, 39 (she now also has a son, Daniel, 32).
“After that I got a job as a catering assistant at the Royal, and then a job came up at Alder Hey which was closer to where I live, so I went for that. It was only supposed to be for six months covering for someone on maternity leave – but I came, and I’ve never left.”
Linda works in the Treetops Restaurant in Alder Hey and she says: “I know every doctor by name, you get to know all the staff, as well as the patients and their mums and dads. That’s the best part of my job, meeting all the children and young people, and their families.
“Patients can be here for quite a long time sometimes and we’re the place people come to to get away from the stress and take a break away from the clinical side of things. They have a cuppa and feel better, they relax a little.
“You’re going to ask people how they are and how their children are doing, and you become quite involved. I’ve made so many new friends here … I even took one mum to the bingo with me!
“Alder Hey is my second family.”
Linda adds: “There can be sad times, but when you get to see so many children recover and go home, that’s so nice.”
When Linda’s children were little she’d get up at 4am to watch them open their gifts before heading to work: “They’d go back to bed after that and then when I got home early in the afternoon, we’d all have Christmas dinner together.
“I get to Alder Hey for 6.15am and it used to be just breakfasts we served until 12 noon – and we could be really busy with staff getting ready to go home or start a shift.
“But this year we’re actually doing breakfasts and Christmas lunch from 11.30am, with a soup starter and a full roast turkey dinner from 11.30am.
“I’ll go home later and have dinner with my partner, Paul.”
After so many years you’d think Linda might ask to be taken off the Christmas Day rota, but she says: “It wouldn’t be Christmas if I wasn’t here on Christmas Day – the kids just make it for me.
“It looks so amazing here at Christmas too: the tree looks great this year and we’ve got Santa here every afternoon until Christmas.
“I’ve got to see the football players come over the years and I’ve had my picture taken with Steven Gerrard and Tyson Fury. I just love it.
“I’ve never even had a day off sick in 29 years – even through Covid!”
Linda is also looking forward to Christmas more than ever this year because it’s her first one as a grandmother, after son Daniel had little boy Luca George.
“He was born on my birthday, January 17, and I’m 60 next year on the same day he is one!
“So after I’ve been into Alder Hey in the morning, I’ll see Luca later on on Christmas Day. That will make it extra special!”