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Charity brings early festive cheer to local residents


Christmas came early for 100 local residents when volunteers from Ilkley and District Good Neighbours delivered either a hamper, flowering potted plant or a box of chocolates to them in their homes.


Organised by the charity, its Christmas Parcel Project – which began 25 years ago – has always brought an annual touch of seasonal good cheer to a number of the area’s older and less able residents, some of whom might feel particularly lonely and isolated during the festive period.


“Things have remained tough for older residents in the area, some of whom have still been shielding until recently and may continue to feel quite nervous about the current Covid situation,” said charity trustee Ed Duguid, Co-ordinator of the Christmas Parcels Project. “In addition to the other services we provide for them we hope this small gesture will help to cheer them up.”


Unfortunately one of the highlights of this annual Christmas event – the involvement of students from Ilkley Grammar who usually went with volunteers to help deliver the parcels – has had to be dropped due to infection risks.


“It’s a pity, but we really hope to welcome the students back next year” said Ed. “The recipients always enjoy seeing them and for their part the students love to deliver a gift to our older residents.”


Ilkley and District Good Neighbours Chairperson Penny Coulthard added: “Christmas can be a challenging time for some of our older residents. This annual event is just one of the ways in which we as a charity can support them and let them know that they haven’t been forgotten. It’s heart-warming to see their reaction when we arrive at the door with a gift, and it was equally important that they had the opportunity to meet our dedicated volunteers who delivered the parcels, and to have a chat with them.”


One of the local residents who received a gift was Rina Willis (pictured) who said: “I’m extremely grateful for my gift and for all that Ilkley Good Neighbours does in the community.”


Another resident, Sophie Pringle Van Berckel, commented: “I was delighted with my present of a plant. What a wonderful kind thought!”


And David and Margaret summed it up when they said: “How good is Good Neighbours.”

Preparing and organising the Christmas Parcels Project is a major operation which begins several months prior to the actual event itself, involving a range of voluntary organisations and community groups.


The charity wishes to thank the following local organisations for supporting the project: both Rotary Clubs in Ilkley, who provided the funding for this year’s event; Olicana Lodge, supported by the rest of Ilkley Freemasons, who lent the charity their hall for the final parcel packing and distribution; the members of the Rotary Clubs of Ilkley and of Ilkley Wharfedale who provided some of the drivers and packers; Tesco, who supplied the contents of the parcels, including some welcome free boxes of mince pies; and a special thanks to Ilkley Community Transport who delivered the contents to the hall on the day.


“We would also like to thank other friends and the charity’s own volunteers and trustees who helped pack and deliver the parcels or plants,” said Ed.


“It really was, as always, a truly community effort by all.”


Ilkley and District Good Neighbours is an independent local charity running a number of projects aimed at supporting older and less able people living independently. The schemes, which are all free, include Befriending, Shop Assist/Shop and Drop, and the social group Moving On which meets in the Clarke Foley Centre each week.


In addition, during the pandemic the charity is running a Test and Trace Engagement project, feeding back people’s experiences to a Bradford Central Control to ensure lessons are learned in tackling the virus and how problems associated with it may be overcome.


If you want to know more about the charity and the work they do in the community, or enquire about volunteer work, contact www.goodneighboursilkley.org.uk or call 01943 603348.

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