Festive Spirit Brings Cheer To Harkstead Residents

Christmas dinner will no longer be a lonely affair this festive season for up to 40 Suffolk residents who crave the opportunity to enjoy the day’s celebrations in the company of others.

A Suffolk businessman is spearheading a community-spirited project to enable elder people in and around the area of Harkstead to tuck into a free festive roast meal, kindly hosted by the village pub, The Baker’s Arms.

Jeremy Buitenhuis, who runs accountancy firm An Accounting Gem Ltd, was inspired to initiate the concept after hearing of more and more people who are likely to spend Christmas on their own in Suffolk this year. Determined to make a difference to some, he approached Baker’s Arms landlady Libby, who was delighted to embrace the idea.

Jeremy has confirmed that he will fund the first 30 places for senior citizens from the surrounding area, but he is now keen to find generous sponsors for a further 10 places. He has also appealed for those with the time and transport to be able to escort each of the dining guests to and from the venue on the day.

“I’m in a very fortunate position of being able to enjoy a magical Christmas with family and friends every year, but I know that that just isn’t the case for so many,” he said. “I was out for a walk one day, thinking about what small contribution I could make to create a different festive experience for some of the people who would otherwise be lonely, so I decided to approach Libby at my local pub, and she was fully behind the idea.

“To spread the word and extend the initiative even further, I began talking to the founders of Shout About Suffolk at their entrepreneurs’ lab in Melton, and they’re now throwing their weight behind helping me to fund additional places and identify people who can effectively be a Christmas Day taxi service for our dining guests.”

Jeremy and the Shout About Suffolk team have already set up a crowdfunding page to further the potential of the initiative, and have developed a Facebook event page to encourage more people to share the requirement for drivers.

Julia Durrant from Shout About Suffolk said: “The spirit of working together to achieve good for the community, is what we’re all about here at Shout About, so Jeremy’s idea felt really appealing to us, and we’re keen to do all we can to help. We now really want people to spread the word and enable us to fund more places, and to cover the transport requirement on the day. This will not only benefit the diners on the day, but it’s a known fact that volunteering is great for mental wellbeing, so we see it as a win-win for many.”

To offer your help and support, call Jeremy on 01473 744700. You can also visit the Just Giving and Facebook pages: justgiving.com/no-one-should-be-alone-on-christmas / facebook.com/events/391908871690159.

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