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Friday, 19 September 2014

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Xmas dinner treat thanks to Cumbrian volunteers

Fifty-six people, who would otherwise have been at home alone, tucked into a hearty Christmas dinner organised by volunteers.

The Christmas Day meal at Wigton Road Methodist Church in Carlisle has been organised by Clare Driffield since the mid 1980s.

She said: “It is open to anyone who is on their own and wants company.

“We know there are a lot of people on their own for whom Christmas Day would be quite difficult.”

The menu included all the old favourites – vegetable soup, followed by turkey with stuffing, sausages, sprouts, carrots, and roast and mashed potatoes, with Christmas pudding or trifle to finish.

The diners were also given a mince pie, cake and shortbread to eat later at home.

Mary Cartwright, 73, of Belle Vue, Carlisle, has been every year since her husband Bill died in 1999.

She said: “You get a good meal but being on your own it’s the company that’s nice. It’s very friendly.”

Thomas Bell, 77, of Longsowerby, Carlisle, said: “I am a widower and I’ve been coming for a good few years.

“It’s very nice of them to do this for us. It’s a good meal, good company and a good set up.

“It’s important for older people to join things like this. You meet new people.”

Not all the diners were pensioners.

Barry Turnbull, 52, of Brampton, said: “I’ve made new friends coming here.”

The dinner would not be possible without the efforts of 18 volunteers who cooked and served the meal and provided transport.

Robina Stalker, 57, of Newfield Drive, Carlisle, helped to prepare the food and set the tables.

She said: “This is my first year here. I have split up from my husband and I wanted to do something useful rather than sit at home on my own.”

Lydia Barthelmes, 16, of Wigton, was another first-time volunteer. She said: “I think it will be good karma. I’d like to think that, if I’m alone when I’m older, something like this would be available to me.”

Rose Foster, of Stanwix, Carlisle, is also 16 but a veteran of the Christmas meal. She is the youngest of three generations of her family to volunteer.

She said: “It stops you from being bored watching TV.”

JWhittle@cngroup.co.uk

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