1. ITV Report

'Mrs Christmas' hosts free lunch for people facing the festive season alone

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Richard Pallot

In our series Christmas Angels, ITV News is sharing stories about people who are dedicating themselves to helping others this festive period.

In a village just outside Sheffield, one woman is determined not to let anyone feel lonely over the festive season.

Gloria Stewart, who has become known locally as Mrs Christmas, organises a Christmas lunch the week before December 25, where pensioners gather together for some festive cheer and to share a few laughs.

Gloria lost her own mum on Christmas Day and so the seasonal period is tinged with sadness.

"I do this because it takes my mind off losing my mum on Christmas Day, and I just think if I can make a difference to just one person that makes me happy...if people just say hello and put a smile on somebody's face, it helps," she told ITV News.

The idea for the free Christmas lunch came about after a chance meeting with a pensioner, who remarked that December 25 meant a packet of biscuits on her own, then coffee, then bed.

Hundreds of pensioners enjoying their free lunch. Credit: ITV News
Gloria has organised the lunches for the past decade. Credit: ITV News

With the encounter in her mind, Gloria was determined to do her bit to eradicate loneliness at Christmas for older people in Sheffield.

She organised the first 'Home Alone' event more than a decade ago, with 87 guests and they have grown in popularity ever since.

The one held in 2017 was attended by more than 400 people.

And for the pensioners attending, they love it, with one remarking: "I love it, very much, I love all parties."

Gloria has earned the nickname 'Mrs Christmas.' Credit: ITV News

For Gloria, as long as there is demand for the lunches, she will continue to organise them.

"I think everybody needs somebody at Christmas, they need somebody all year round but I think Christmas is a special time, and no one should be on their own at Christmas," she added.