Elderly readers invited to enjoy free Christmas lunch

2015 Spalding Guardian Chrsistmas day lunch Ivo day cntre Volunteers, guests and Santa ANL-161201-152210001
2015 Spalding Guardian Chrsistmas day lunch Ivo day cntre Volunteers, guests and Santa ANL-161201-152210001
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Celebrations are coming early for lonely senior citizens who have come to enjoy a Christmas Day meal with the Spalding Guardian.

A massive community effort will this year see 1,000 elderly residents coming together for a week-long series of parties at a hotel in Skegness – and 100 places have been set aside for our readers on one of the days.

For the past two years the Spalding Guardian has hosted the Christmas Day lunch at the Ivo Resource and Day Centre in Albion Street.

Food and flowers were generously donated by local businesses and an amazing team of volunteers came forward to cook, serve, entertain and provide transport for the guests.

Phones started ringing at the Spalding Guardian office as early as August with readers wondering if the dinner was happening again this year.

Editor Jeremy Ransome said: “We can never thank the vast number of volunteers and businesses who helped make our Christmas Day event for the elderly and lonely happen.

“Reporter Chrissie Redford, who is working for our sister paper the Skegness Standard, met a man in Chapel St Leonards who organised a similar event there and had big ambitions for this year – to throw a Christmas dinner for 1,000 people.

“We have been able to help him with some donations of food so this year 100 of our elderly readers are being invited to something a bit different – a trip to the seaside to enjoy Christmas dinner, some cabaret entertainment and a few games of bingo.”

Glyn Ettridge is the real-life Santa Claus making the event possible, with support from the Spalding Giardian and the Skegness Standard, following a successful Christmas dinner he organised in Chapel St Leonards last year when he was chairman of the residents’ association.

Mr Ettridge has been at the end of a hotline to happiness for weeks, gathering support from businesses and charitable organisations.

He said: “Last year’s event got me thinking about how many elderly folks are alone at Christmas. After three months of asking, I realised thousands of elderly people come into this category.

“So it was a case of rolling up the sleeves and seeing what I could do in order to provide a free traditional Christmas dinner, plus the pudding, cabaret entertainment and a few sessions of bingo for 1,000 senior citizens.

“I approached all four local lodges of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes in the area who have given their full backing, together with a sizeable donation.

“Then I had to find companies who I could approach to provide the food. One single phone call to Staples of Wrangle obtained a pledge to provide all the vegetables required. Another phone call to a local farm led to all the potatoes being promised. A Norfolk company promised all the Christmas pudding logs. Another company from Hull promised the cranberry sauce and stuffing. The support from the Spalding Guardian is tremendous.

“I then started to see if I could find establishments who could offer their facilities and cook the meals. The Grosvenor House Hotel in Skegness and the White Hart in Burgh le Marsh both offered to host the dinners.”

Elderly readers attending the event at the Grosvenor House Hotel on the seafront in Skegness on Thursday, December 15, can expect a free Christmas dinner with pudding, cabaret entertainment and a game of bingo.

Help is especially needed with transport and volunteer drivers are being invited to join in the fun and enjoy a Christmas meal before the return journey. Anyone who would like to attend or help with transport is asked to email chrissie.redford@jpress.co.uk or call 07774326173.