Festive lunch saved – by donations from readers

Gloria Stewart with butcher Darren Patterson inside Patterson's butchers Bellhouse rd, Sheffield, picking up turkeys for the lonely old folks Chrsitmas lunch. 28th November 2011
Gloria Stewart with butcher Darren Patterson inside Patterson's butchers Bellhouse rd, Sheffield, picking up turkeys for the lonely old folks Chrsitmas lunch. 28th November 2011
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One good turn deserves another... it must be the South Yorkshire motto.

Star readers have dug deep into their purses and pockets and rallied to help heart-of-gold Ecclesfield pensioner Gloria Stewart.

For the fourth year running disabled Gloria, aged 62, is throwing a Christmas lunch for Sheffielders otherwise destined to spend the festive season alone.

It’s a day that underlines the true meaning of festive goodwill. But the recession had threatened to mar tomorrow’s event for up to 280 at Owlerton Stadium.

Gloria, who raises the money herself, was almost £2,500 short and vowing to dig into her own pocket.

But since Star readers heard what Gloria was planning to do, almost £1,000 has been given.

Donations have ranged from those of elderly people and children giving what they can, to two generous local businesses. Law firm Irwin Mitchell donated £200 and the Skipton Building Society’s Sheffield office £325. In addition, Skipton staff have forsaken their National Lottery tickets this week – they want to spend the money on wine for Gloria’s guests.

“I am overwhelmed,” said Gloria, who was left disabled after three bouts of cancer and a stroke. “I know how tight money is for so many people right now.”

There is still a shortfall, but the thrifty grandma thinks she can bridge the gap.

“I’ve been shopping around for bargains to eke the money out and I’m very happy to put the rest in myself. I wouldn’t want to be a drain on the public,” she insisted.

“The Home Alone lunch is so important. There are so many people for whom Christmas is just another day, spent with no-one to talk to. The sad stories I’ve heard from some of the guests would break your heart,” she added.

Tomorrow, cabbies at City Taxis will be collecting Gloria’s guests free of charge, staff at Owlerton greyhound stadium will be cooking and serving a three-course Christmas lunch and the loyal band of volunteers Gloria has amassed over the years will be ensuring everyone has someone to chat to.

If you know someone lonely who would like to join in, call Gloria on 0114 257 0460 – a small number of places are still available.

To donate for this year or next, send a cheque with your name and address to ‘Home Alone Christmas Lunch’ to: Gloria Stewart, 28 Orchard Close, Ecclesfield, S5 9GT.