A pensioner who has supported the Free Press Christmas meal for the lonely for the past two years was celebrating something special at this year’s party.
Gloria Henkel, of Queens Road, took her new fiancé Paul Crow along to the seafront Grosvenor House Hotel.
They joined other guests from Spalding on the bus that was sent by the hotel to take them for a free Christmas meal and party for 200 pensioners.
Gloria said: “I met Paul at a friend’s house and we got on straight away and now we’re engaged. I can’t wait for next year’s party - we’ll be married then.”
The event was organised by Glenn Ettridge, a member of the RAOB (the Buffs), with support from the Skegness Lodges and many local companies, Guests enjoyed a free turkey dinner, entertainment and games of bingo.
The trip from Spalding was made possible by the organiser through his links with staff from the Guardian, who helped him source some of the food from the charity Buckingham Emergency Food (BEFA). BEFA was among the sponsors of our own successful Christmas Day meals over the past two years and the charity supported us again this year.
I met Paul at a friend’s house, we got on straight away and now we’re engagedGloria Henkel, of Queens Road, Skegness
Mr Ettridge, who aimed to provide lunches for 1,000 pensioners, said: “I’m delighted to welcome guests from Spalding. It’s good to see them because Spalding is my father’s area. I have relatives there and I’m hoping they will see this and get back in touch.”
Ninety-six year old Robert Wade, who was also on the bus from Spalding, said his handiwork could well have been enjoyed by families in Skegness. He said: “I used to carve Punch and Judy puppets.
“The British Embassy gave some of my puppets as a gift to the Jakarta Museum. One of my swazzles (Punch’s voice device) is at the Victoria and Albert Museum.”
For guest Jean Sanderson this was her third Christmas party with the Spalding Guardian. She said: “I’ve been as excited as a little girl. It means the world to me to come.”
Jean was taken to the venue by car by volunteer Sharon Beehoo of Crowland. She said: “I’ve really enjoyed it. I wanted to give something back and the whole experience has been lovely. I’m really pleased I did it.”