Business and aristocracy came together yesterday as the star hosts of a festive lunch for some of the region’s senior citizens.
Metrocentre developer and former Newcastle United chairman Sir John Hall was invited by the Duchess of Northumberland to be the “pin-up man” for the annual Christmas lunch for the Elderberries programme at Alnwick Garden.
Giving a speech in front of the 100 older guests from across the county specially picked by ISOS Housing, Sir John said he was proud to support such a worthwhile cause in the community in which he grew up.
Speaking to The Journal afterwards, he said: “The Duchess has some wonderful ideas to involve the community and at the end of the day it’s all about the community and all of us here in Northumberland and in the North East. I am a firm believer in the voice of the North East and this is why I am supporting this programme.”
The dinner celebrated the launch of the recently introduced Elderberries programme, which provides a range of learning and leisure opportunities for older people living in Northumberland. Funded by the Stuart Halbert Foundation, it uses The Alnwick Garden to connect with those aged over 50 to help them become happier, healthier and more empowered through projects, events, services and opportunities. Yesterday the elderly people were given an early Christmas dinner as part of the programme.
Speaking afterwards, the Duchess of Northumberland said she was thrilled to have the support of Sir John.
“We could not have anyone better, I am delighted Sir John Hall has agreed to be the pin-up man for Elderberries,” she said.
The Duchess said the annual event was an important part of giving back to the community and looking after the older people in Northumberland.
She added: “Alnwick Garden could never have been able to do this without the Stuart Halbert Foundation.”
The guests were entertained with Christmas songs from the Holley Park Academy choir, Sunderland, who also handed out presents to the elderly people after their meal.