HOMELESS people on Wearside will enjoy a turkey dinner at Christmas thanks to a very big bird.
Students at East Durham College’s Houghall site have been rearing turkeys all year to be sold for the festive table.
However, one of the birds grew so large they realised it would be far too big to sell for just one family, so students decided to donate it to the Salvation Army hostel in Sunderland’s High Street East.
Staff and students from East Durham College went along to the hostel to hand over the 39lb bird, which will be cooked to help feed the 65 patrons on Christmas Day.
Since arriving at Houghall in September, the turkey, which students nicknamed George, just kept growing to a whopping size.
Brenda Gray, a lecturer in land-based studies, credited George’s size to her students’ good management.
She said: “We collected the turkeys at the beginning of term and they certainly grew.”
She said the birds were allowed to be free range in a penned area and they enjoyed the environment.
With the Houghall turkeys selling – mostly to college staff – at £5 a kilo, George would have been worth up to £90. But, college bosses were just happy to donate him to a good cause.
Mrs Gray said: “Hopefully, he’ll help give some homeless people a really good Christmas – provide them with a nice, free-range lunch.”
Although students at Houghall have kept some poultry for a number of years, this was the first time the college has farmed turkeys.
As well as making use of empty farm buildings during winter, the initiative also helped trainees learn about animal husbandry, business, numeracy and marketing skills.
* Turkeys were first brought to Britain from the U.S. in 1526.
* Eating turkey at Christmas was made fashionable by Edward VII.
* Ten million turkeys were sold in the UK last Christmas.
* Average weight of a Christmas turkey is 12lb.