Donations to QA Hospital doctors' Christmas giveaway to older people doubles from last year
CHRISTMAS has come early for residents at a nursing home in Fareham thanks to a gift donation scheme from doctors at Queen Alexandra hospital.
A team of five doctors have been handing out hundreds of gifts to care home residents across the area, with more than 20 residents at the The Fernes care home, in 6 Samuel Mortimer Close, received the gifts donated on Saturday.
The project began in 2016, with last year seeing 300 presents being given by 'Christmas elves' from the hospital in Portsmouth - and they are on track to almost double the number this year, according to founder Dr Ellie Reed.
The doctor, who specialised in elderly care, said: 'We have had pledges of 500 gifts, and plan to go to 20 homes in total.
'In previous years we have gifts from across the UK - and as far away as Australia.
'I am incredibly grateful to amazing generosity of the Portsmouth people looking after their community.'
Fernes resident Peggy Richardson said she was 'so surprised' by her gift - which she is saving for Christmas day.
She said: 'It's a really nice idea - anything is welcome.
'I hope they come back next year, and not just because of the gifts
'I'm sure there are many people who could do with a nice Christmas surprise.'
Whilst Peggy will be visited by family over the Christmas period, Dr Reed said many others were not to fortunate.
She added: 'Last year, we visited several people in there own homes who had not seen anyone on Christmas Day for more than a decade.
'The thought of people not having a gift or any visit over Christmas was quite harrowing.'
Christmas is considered to be the loneliest time of the year for more than 1.5 million older people, according to an Age UK report published this December.
The charity, which questioned 2,000 people aged 65 and over, estimates that around 200,000 elderly people will spend the holiday alone this year.
Earlier in the year, The Fernes helped tackle loneliness by inviting Year Six pupils from St Columba Church of England Primary Academy, in Tewkesbury Avenue, Fareham, to take part in activities ranging from scarecrow making to vegetable planting with their older residents.