GOING to prison, visiting a hospice or feeding the bats are not among the familiar Christmas traditions, but for a few people in Oxfordshire that's exactly what they will be doing on Monday.

While most of us are tucking into turkey, tearing open presents and slipping into a cosy slumber in front of the Queen, these people are putting in a day's work.

Reporter Pete Hughes made his annual festive rounds to meet the people who will be working this Christmas Day.

Banbury Cake:

The Bishop

BISHOP of Dorchester Colin Fletcher's Christmas Day this year will start like it does every year: he will get up at about 6am in his house at Yarnton, open a few presents with his grandchildren, then drive to HMP Bullingdon.

Once he's met with the prison chaplain, the first thing they do is go around the medical ward, meeting inmates who are physically and mentally ill.

Next he goes to the chapel and gives a service to about 80 convicted prisoners, where everyone from petty thieves to murderers and rapists may receive a blessing.

"They're a lovely lot," he muses, "we sing carols and have a cup of coffee afterwards.

"When we give them the blessing we just dip the wafer in the wine, though – we don't give them the cup."

By 10am, he is saying his farewells and driving to his next stop – Katharine House in Adderbury, near Banbury: a hospice for the terminally ill.

There he gives another service, but because the hospice tries to get as many of its patients home for Christmas as possible, he may be preaching to as few as five.

Joined by chaplain James Grote, they will sing carols that echo around the building.

"It's an extremely painful day," says the Bishop.

"Katharine House is a place full of care and love, but also pain.

"Bullingdon as well, and for many people that feeling of spirituality is more active at Christmas."

On the question of the morality behind brightening Christmas for prisoners who the law deems unfit to mix with society, the Bishop is theological.

"Every prisoner there is a sinner like me.

"You have people in Bullingdon who have committed awful crimes, but as I often say to primary school children – you will never meet anyone who God doesn't love.

"Are they my favourite places to spend time? Probably not.

"Do I think it's part of my ministry, part of being a Bishop, to show the love of Christ to everybody? I certainly do."

After another cuppa at Katharine House, it's home again to a well-deserved Christmas lunch with a large number of family members.

And just because he's at home, does not necessarily mean it's peaceful or quiet.

"One of the things about being Bishop," he chuckles, "is they give you a house which is fairly elastic in terms of hosting guests..."

Banbury Cake:

Head of the Small Mammals

"AS long as there's not poo all over the walls, it's probably ok."

How many of us have started Christmas with that exact sentence?

Deputy head of primates and small mammals at Cotswold Wildlife Park Natalie Horner is responsible for eight members of staff and 53 other species of animals.

On Monday, her working day will begin at 6.30am.

First, she and her Christmas team of three walk around every enclosure in their section to check the animals are awake.

Then it's back to the kitchen to prepare a Christmas breakfast for several hundred small furry animals.

The mammals all get different food on each day of the week to keep their diet varied, so for example on Monday the meerkats will get grapes.

The 150 bats get 10kg of food every day – a mixture of apples, pears, tomatoes, melon, corn on the cob and even bunches of bananas.

Inevitably, a fruity feast like this keeps the flying rodents regular, so right after feeding time there is probably a significant amount of smelly sweeping up to do.

As Mrs Horner, 29, puts it: "We do a quick spot check of the poo areas to make sure there's not a big build up."

After the morning poo-sweep is done, Mrs Horner gets to go home to a well-earned Christmas lunch with her husband Daniel down the road in Highworth.

The couple are both originally from Sheffield and moved to the village because of Daniel's job with the RAF.

Mrs Horner had always wanted to work with animals, so it was a happy coincidence when she discovered their new house was five minutes away from a wildlife park.

After lunch it's back to the park for the second feed of the day, then the animals that get locked in for the night are tucked up in bed.

Overall, Mrs Horner says: "It's actually a really lovely day: we're all in a happy mood because it's Christmas and Reggie, the park director, usually comes around too.

"It's not too bad at all – especially as I know I won't have to do it next year!"

Banbury Cake:

The head of Oxford Food Bank

Many of us can admit to getting a little stressed cooking Christmas dinner for a big family.

This year, Cathy Howard will be helping serve lunch to about 600 people.

As head of operations at Oxford Food Bank she is overseeing the annual Christmas lunch at the Kings Centre on Osney Mead.

Her working day starts when she drives from her home in Didcot to Oxford for 9am. She may or may not be asked to pick up a few guests along the way.

When she arrives, she will most likely have to hit the phones helping to make last-minute transport arrangements for some of the 600.

Most of the guests are due to arrive at 11am, when she'll help serve the non-alcoholic aperitif then, if everything goes to plan, they sit down to eat at about 12.30pm.

But, if Monday is anything like last year, she'll probably have to get up halfway through to help with more admin.

Once lunch is over, the working day is far from at an end: Ms Howard and the team then spend the next six hours washing, drying, sweeping, packing and, of course, sending their 600 guests off on their way, each with a little party bag to take home.

If she's lucky she might get home to Didcot at 8pm.

"I'm not sure if it's a day at work or a day off," she muses, "I don't have to work on Christmas day, but I chose to because it is a wonderful thing.

"To me, it feels like a privilege to join the meal."

Banbury Cake:

The Randolph reception manager

BEING Spanish, 23-year-old Randolph hotel reception manager Carlotta Pascual-Solera is going to be roughly 1,000 miles from home this Christmas.

Luckily, she says, in the two years she has worked at Oxford's most famous hotel she has grown to think of the team there as her second family.

Last year, when she was guest relations manager, her job on Christmas Day was looking after the whims of the VIP guests.

This year, as manager of the whole team, she is in charge of a team of five who will be checking Christmas guests in, making sure they like they rooms and making them comfortable.

Miss Pascual-Solera says: "This year I have quite a new team, most of them are working their first Christmas, so I'm going to try to make them as excited as I am."