Just before Christmas, the Arsenal Foundation helped fund a Christmas lunch for local pensioners hosted by Islington Council. Joe Hagland, 79, was among those who attended.
“As a local lad, Islington born and bred, I’d been to the pensioners’ Christmas lunch before – but last year’s was better than ever.
“You have to be lucky to get a ticket. There are only 80 seats so once you’ve applied your name goes into a hat, and I was thrilled when I got a card through the post to say I’d got a place.
“I live in sheltered accommodation in Highbury and didn’t think anyone else here would be lucky enough to go, but lo and behold six of us got tickets, so off we went to the Town Hall just before Christmas.
“It was wonderful. The Mayor was there, along with the council leader and several councillors. We had a lovely lunch – soup to start, then turkey with all the trimmings – and free drink: tea, coffee and some sort of brandy cream thing!
“There was singing and dancing and there was a raffle too with prizes starting at £25, and a woman on a table near us was delighted when she won £100. Not only did we get a free lunch, and get waited on, but some of us got money just for going!
“I hate it when pensioners, even though I am one, moan about life. We’re spoiled these days and we’re very lucky. We have so many opportunities – a free bus pass, clubs to go to if you can make it – that you don’t have to be lonely. You can still have a wonderful life.
“It’s lovely to see the support that we get both from Arsenal and local businesses. That’s changed over the years and totally for the better. I did volunteer work myself for a long time – I started doing home help for an elderly lady for a few weeks and what was supposed to last for a few weeks ended up lasting for nine years!
“The lady was Edna Griffiths, who was mayor of Islington in 1992/93 – she’s in a home now but I still see her every few weeks, and even though she has dementia she still recognises me. We still have a laugh, and it just shows what you can do for other people if you’re prepared to take the time.”
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