IT TURNS out that there is such a thing as a free lunch – thanks to two kind-hearted publicans.
It is the second successive year that Steve and Julie Burridge, who run The White Hart in Denmead, has provided a Christmas party and festive lunch for local pensioners.
‘Last year’s lunch was a great success and we wanted to repeat it again this year,’ said Steve. ‘Loneliness over the festive period can be an issue for some elderly people. Last year we had one lady, who lost her husband in March, who attended the meal as her first social event since the bereavement. She later wrote to us and said it had been a real watershed moment in getting back to normal life.’
Around 120 people attended today’s event with many guests from local care homes, Green Meadows, Easterlea and Turvey King Court sheltered accommodation.
‘We realise it is difficult for some elderly people to get to the pub and so we provided transport for anyone who needed help in getting here,’ added Steve.
The oldest guest in attendance was 100-year-old RAF veteran, Gordon Russell Watson.
‘I remember coming to this pub during the war. This is my second year at the event and I was really looking forward to my Christmas lunch,’ said Gordon.
In addition to Christmas dinner, the guests were able to enjoy a raffle, play bingo and listen to a live renditions of a range of festive songs.
‘The songs are performed in the style of artists from the 1940s and 1950s so people can reminisce about Christmases of the past,’ said Steve.
The party, lunch and transport have all been provided by Steve and Julie free of charge.
Local Trish Bailey, said: ‘Everyone is really excited about getting together for the day. It is such a generous gesture – everyone can’t seem to do enough for you.’
‘This is my second year, the food is brilliant and it is sure to be a really good afternoon,’ explained Eric Canney, 76.
‘It is a fantastic thing they do – totally free. It is great for people from the local community to come together,’ added wife Joan, 72.
Also present at the Christmas lunch was Father Christmas himself, alias Nick Hall, 78.
‘I have the full costume but the beard is entirely natural – not like some of the rubbish fake ones you see around today,’ he said