From milk farmer to TV producer, meet the women who will be working on Christmas Day

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Sejal Kapadia Pocha
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At last. Our 'out of office' is on, our laptops are firmly tucked away and we're all set for 11 days of eating, drinking and family time. 

But spare a thought for those who aren't so lucky. Because while most offices shut down for the holidays, there are some industries that have to keep their cogs churning no matter what day it is.

Food still needs to be harvested, emergency services need to stay fully intact, and what about all that television you're watching? 

In fact, a record 900,000 people will be working on 25 December this year - the highest it's been for three years - according to the Trades Union Congress, due to a rise in employment levels.

We take a look at three out of the many women who will be keep things moving as we dig into a hearty Christmas lunch on Friday.

Emily Spicer will be milking cows in Devon 

At 6am on Christmas Day, 34-year-old Emily will be heading into her dairy farm, which she runs with her partner in Dorset, to milk her cows. She is one of the many famers that ensure there is enough milk being delivered across the festive period. 

"There is a magical feeling walking out to our farm when it's wrapped up in the dark and seeing the expectant mums and new-borns in the straw barn.  It really does make you think of the nativity. Any new arrivals are normally named with a festive theme – Mary, Joseph and Holly have all featured previously!"

Her farm is a part of Arla, one of the UK and Europe’s largest dairy cooperatives which produces 25% of the milk in the country. All her cows are milked robotically, so her work involves checking if any cows are late for milking and rounding them up if so. She will then feed the cows and calves, clean up the sheds and rake their sand beds before going back into the house to finally eat her own Christmas lunch. Then around 4pm she will return to the barn to feed the cows and calves, clean the yards and make their beds for the evening.

"Christmas on our farm is very much a family affair. It’s the one day of the year it’s just us on the farm and we take great pride in knowing that we are working hard to ensure people around the country can enjoy fresh cream on their Christmas pudding, delicious cheese boards and have fresh milk in the fridge throughout the festive period."

Lara Joannides will be covering breaking news at the BBC 

Broadcast journalist, Lara, has worked the last three Christmases at the BBC offices in London. This year, the 29-year-old will be taking the night shift from 11pm to 7am on Boxing Day.

Her role is to spot any breaking news stories using feeds from partner companies such as Reuters and APTN or social media, and be ready to book guests, write scripts and edit videos in the event of a natural disaster or significant death. She might also write scripts for the presenters to read into pre-prepared content as well as overseeing other stories going out. 

"It's usually quite jovial and friendly - we're all in it together and barring any major disasters or breaking news it's a lot quieter than normal. I make it my personal mission to go around to the other departments and spread Christmas cheer by handing out chocolates or mince pies.

"It's especially nice to go and visit the technical teams who we don't get to see face-to-face on a normal. Their office is in the basement which sadly has no windows, but they always put out the best festive decorations to make up for it. A giant blow-up Santa is my favourite. 

"The company is also good at putting on a nice lunch for us - one year we had Lebanese food and it was delicious."

Adele Hawkins will be making the day special for the elderly in Peterborough

Christmas in a care home for over 55s isn't always a merry occasion. Adele Hawkins, 23, a care manager at Anchor care home in Peterborough (England’s largest not-for-profit housing association) says, "For some people Christmas is a celebration. For them, we like to wake them with a glass of buck’s fizz to start off the day. But for others it's a very emotional time. For instance we have some residents who may be having their first Christmas without their husband or wife, which can be hard for them".

She recalls one particular resident who lost her son before Christmas day. “This was such a hard time for her dealing with grief and handling the funeral. It was her first Christmas on her own and she really tried to keep up with the festivities and be involved. Unfortunately, on Christmas day she had a really tough day seeing families come and go. The carers spent time with her reminiscing about Christmases in the past and made this year as nice as possible for her with gifts, bubbly and music and the assurance that she was fully supported.”

As tough as it might be, Adele says the day is massively rewarding. "You are helping someone else have a great day. I wouldn't change any of the Christmases I have worked for the world."


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Sejal Kapadia Pocha

Sejal Kapadia Pocha covers stories about everything from women’s issues to cult foods. She describes herself as a balance between Hermione and Luna Lovegood.