Home from home for Christmas
Hundreds of local people were given an afternoon to remember at Gloria Stewart’s fifth annual Home Alone Christmas Lunch.
Gloria, who has earned the nickname Mrs Christmas, started the festive tradition after she realised that every year hundreds of pensioners and vulnerable people spend Christmas alone. This year’s guest of honour was David Blunkett MP, who sat down for dinner with the 250 guests at the event in Wadsley Bridge which he has supported for several years.
The lunch has grown every year since it started in 2008, and has managed to safely weather the economic downturn thanks to amazing donations and helpful volunteers, including University staff Karen Burton, Kath Wellum, Gill Eyre and Caroline Ashworth. The Sheffield Eagles have also lent their support every year by volunteering to serve the wine.
However, with the steady increase in numbers, the budget required each year to feed everyone has risen too, and this year’s event may not have been possible without a £1,000 donation from the University’s Students’ Union RAG (Raising and Giving) fund. The RAG is a group of 36 students who put on events throughout the year to raise money for local charities. Last year alone, RAG and University students donated more than £180,000 to charity. Gloria’s Home Alone Christmas Lunch is the kind of project which makes a real difference to people’s lives. Without it, many people would have no company at all over Christmas.
Karen, who helps out every year, and who works as an administrator for postgraduate admissions in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, said: “The donation from the RAG fund really saved the day to be honest. It took the pressure off Gloria and meant we could do nice things for the people who came, like decorating the tables nicely, and all the guests could go home with a gift.”