Lunch tackles loneliness

Guests at the lunch enjoyed meeting  Willie Henderson, Joe Wark and Bertie Auld.
Guests at the lunch enjoyed meeting Willie Henderson, Joe Wark and Bertie Auld.

Older people enjoyed some Christmas cheer at a festive lunch aimed at tackling the problem of loneliness and isolation.

The event held in New College Lanarkshire’s ML One restaurant in Motherwell was organised by social housing maintenance firm Mears.

More than 50 guests chatted with former Motherwell star Joe Wark and Old Firm legends, Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld and ex-Ibrox icon Willie Henderson.

The football heroes posed for photos and regaled with stories of their illustrious playing careers.

Six older people were invited from the charity Contact the Elderly, 20 through their involvement with Alzheimer Scotland’s football heritage project Remember Well and eight from Mears Scotland’s independent living service.

Guests enjoyed a traditional three-course Christmas lunch served up by the college’s hospitality students.

Mears, which carries out repairs on behalf of North Lanarkshire Council, wanted to engage with members of the community who might otherwise be alone at this time of year.

One of their clients, 73-year-old Motherwell resident Edward Harvie, was full of praise for the event.

He said: “This has been brilliant. I thought I was treated like a VIP.

“I was over the moon to see Bertie Auld – I remember watching the game in 1967 and my brother was at the match in Portugal.”

Ten apprentices from Mears, many of whom also study at New College Lanarkshire, acted as escorts at the event, dishing out Christmas hampers to all guests.

Steve Kelly, business development director of Mears, said: “This is our first pensioners’ lunch and I’m really pleased with how it has gone.

“Since we look after 40,000 houses for the council, we come across a lot of older people, so we just thought we’d do a little bit extra.”

The lunch was also attended by North Lanarkshire Council depute leader Councillor Jim Smith and Councillor Gary O’Rorke.

Darren Pettigrew, curriculum and quality leader in the Faculty of Service Industries said: “The college is delighted to support the community and work with individuals and partners who support and are striving to build a strong, cohesive and prosperous society.”