GALLERY: It’s love actually at Free Press party for elderly

Gloria Henkel, with  new fiance Paul Crow and friend Derek Wyatt at the Christmas party in Skegness. Photo: MSKP-151216-4 ANL-161219-073752001

Gloria Henkel, with new fiance Paul Crow and friend Derek Wyatt at the Christmas party in Skegness. Photo: MSKP-151216-4 ANL-161219-073752001

  • Spalding guests join Christmas meal in Skegness
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A pensioner who has supported the Free Press Christmas meal for the lonely for the past two years was celebrating something special at this year’s party.

Gloria Henkel, of Queens Road, took her new fiancé Paul Crow along to the seafront Grosvenor House Hotel.

Ninety-six year old Robert Wade (right) on the bus to Skegness with other guests. Photo: MSKP-151216-50 ANL-161219-074006001

Ninety-six year old Robert Wade (right) on the bus to Skegness with other guests. Photo: MSKP-151216-50 ANL-161219-074006001

They joined other guests from Spalding on the bus that was sent by the hotel to take them for a free Christmas meal and party for 200 pensioners.

Gloria said: “I met Paul at a friend’s house and we got on straight away and now we’re engaged. I can’t wait for next year’s party - we’ll be married then.”

The event was organised by Glenn Ettridge, a member of the RAOB (the Buffs), with support from the Skegness Lodges and many local companies, Guests enjoyed a free turkey dinner, entertainment and games of bingo.

The trip from Spalding was made possible by the organiser through his links with staff from the Guardian, who helped him source some of the food from the charity Buckingham Emergency Food (BEFA). BEFA was among the sponsors of our own successful Christmas Day meals over the past two years and the charity supported us again this year.

I met Paul at a friend’s house, we got on straight away and now we’re engaged

Gloria Henkel, of Queens Road, Skegness

Mr Ettridge, who aimed to provide lunches for 1,000 pensioners, said: “I’m delighted to welcome guests from Spalding. It’s good to see them because Spalding is my father’s area. I have relatives there and I’m hoping they will see this and get back in touch.”

Ninety-six year old Robert Wade, who was also on the bus from Spalding, said his handiwork could well have been enjoyed by families in Skegness. He said: “I used to carve Punch and Judy puppets.

“The British Embassy gave some of my puppets as a gift to the Jakarta Museum. One of my swazzles (Punch’s voice device) is at the Victoria and Albert Museum.”

For guest Jean Sanderson this was her third Christmas party with the Spalding Guardian. She said: “I’ve been as excited as a little girl. It means the world to me to come.”

Anne Brennan, Win James, June Marriott and Jean Sanderson trying their luck at bingo. Photo: MSKP-151216-1 ANL-161219-073722001

Anne Brennan, Win James, June Marriott and Jean Sanderson trying their luck at bingo. Photo: MSKP-151216-1 ANL-161219-073722001

Jean was taken to the venue by car by volunteer Sharon Beehoo of Crowland. She said: “I’ve really enjoyed it. I wanted to give something back and the whole experience has been lovely. I’m really pleased I did it.”

Guests from Cedar Falls in Spalding with Chrissie Redford of Free Press (third right) who organised the trip. Photo: MSKP-151216-9 ANL-161219-073820001

Guests from Cedar Falls in Spalding with Chrissie Redford of Free Press (third right) who organised the trip. Photo: MSKP-151216-9 ANL-161219-073820001

Volunteer driver Sharon Beehoo of Crowland (fourth left) joining in the game of bingo. ANL-161219-081334001

Volunteer driver Sharon Beehoo of Crowland (fourth left) joining in the game of bingo. ANL-161219-081334001