Northern Ireland

Senior citizen's Christmas dinner under threat

Christmas turkey
Image caption The volunteers have provided Christmas dinner to pensioners for 21 years

Some senior citizens in Coleraine may have to spend Christmas Day alone after a scheme to provide them with Christmas dinner failed to secure funds from the council.

Margaret Peacock began providing festive lunches for pensioners living alone in Coleraine Borough 21 years ago.

Margaret and a team of volunteers usually fund the scheme themselves along with some donations from local businesses.

However, due to the current economic climate the group approached Coleraine Borough Council to seek funding.

The council stated that it could not provide financial support for such events and said it could only assist by identifying alternative funding bodies which may be able to help.

Margaret said the group was devastated that the council would not give a donation or "any type of help at all".

Plea

"Usually we can provide mini-buses or taxis, a full Christmas dinner, evening tea, presents, we have a real fun day's entertainment. These are seniors who would always be on their own on Christmas Day and look forward to it so much," she said.

Annie Adair from Ballymoney lives by herself and has been going to the dinners for many years.

"They mean a whole lot, I enjoy them terribly well and I'd miss them if we didn't have them," she said.

Margaret has not yet given up hope that this year's festivities will go ahead.

"Knowing every one of the seniors that come along and knowing their situation I really want this to happen and hopefully someone out there will listen to our plea," she said.