Historic Flintshire hotel brings Christmas cheer to older people

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Arthur Kemp is pictured with his sister-in-law Marjorie Roberts at the Soughton Hall Hotel Christmas lunch. Arthur lost his wife Doris to cancer a month ago.

A grandfather from Rhosesmor who lost his wife to cancer a month ago was one of the guests at a Christmas lunch organised for older people at a North Wales historic hotel.

Arthur Kemp is pictured with his sister-in-law Marjorie Roberts at the Soughton Hall Hotel Christmas lunch. Arthur lost his wife Doris to cancer a month ago.

The team at the Grade II* listed Soughton Hall Hotel near Northop, Flintshire, decided to host a free, festive meal for 20 older people from the community to help bring a healthy dose of Christmas cheer at what can be a lonely or difficult time of year for them.

Staff teamed up with Age Connects North East Wales, to put on a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, for the group of elderly people who all benefit in some way from the charity’s varied programmes and services.

The independent charity works with people over the age of 50 across Flintshire and Wrexham with the aim of supporting people to live independently in their own homes for as long as they choose to do so.

Carl Price, owner of Mold-based Stanway Taxis, put on transport to and from the venue for free and the event was attended by Mold Town Mayor Councillor Anthony Parry.

One of the guests who enjoyed the meal at the spectacular mansion house was 82-year-old Arthur Kemp, a retired Sales Rep for a haberdashery distributor, whose wife Doris, 83, passed away at the end of October. They had been married for 61 and a half years.

The couple took advantage of the charity’s Home Solutions social enterprise which generate funds for other work within the organisation. Arthur still receives help with looking after the house by having an Age Connects cleaner.

Arthur, who has two children and two grandchildren, attended the event with his wife’s younger sister Marjorie, and said: “This is just the sort of thing that Doris and I would have come to as a couple and I am trying to carry on and do the things we used to enjoy together.

“For me it feels like the only way I can handle her passing away.

“It’s important that I get out and stay sociable, meeting new people, which is what I am enjoying today, while I adjust to the fact Doris is not with me anymore.

“Doris had the gift of being able to listen to people and talk to them. She would have thoroughly enjoyed coming here today.

“I am going to spend the whole Christmas break with my family which means the loneliness won’t be so difficult to bear. Events like this really help because it is nice to come out and not be stuck in the house.

“It’s a wonderful thing for Soughton Hall to do for us and it is the spirit of the season to reach out and help others in the community. The meal was beautiful. Very nicely served and really tasty.”

Soughton Hall Hotel was taken over by Manchester-based family firm Elle R Leisure in February.

The striking building was built in 1714 and later remodelled by the famous Sir Charles Barry whose iconic work includes the Houses of Parliament and Highclere Castle of Downton Abbey fame.

James Ramsbottom, Elle R Leisure Managing Director, said: “We are a new team at Soughton Hall and we wanted to establish how important the local community is to us.

“We thought it would be a kind thing to do to open the doors today for a group of older people who perhaps may not get out and about as much as they like and as respected members of the local community deserve to be treated to a beautiful meal in beautiful surroundings.

“We have been extremely pleased to welcome them here and work in partnership with Age Connects North East Wales to ensure some of the most deserving people in our neighbourhood can enjoy a delicious Christmas dinner at our grand Hall.

“I must also thank Carl at Stanways Taxis for organising the transport because without his help, many of the group here today would not have been able to make it. Also my thanks must go to the Mayor for taking the time to attend.”

Karen Crane, CEO for Age Connects North East Wales, said: “I think sometimes older people get forgotten about and although people love and enjoy Christmas, it can be a very lonely time of year for older people.

“They may have lost a loved one or not have many family members close by and so it is a very important time of year to make sure we make an extra special effort to bring people together.

“What better way than to enjoy a lovely meal in such wonderful surroundings so we cannot thank Soughton Hall enough for organising this for us.

“Also for thinking about transport too because for many older people this is an issue and one of the main barriers to them getting out and about.

“For us, working in partnership with local businesses such as Soughton Hall is crucial to the work we do and without their support, we would find it very difficult at times to provide this sort of opportunity for the older people we help support.”

To contact Age Connects North East Wales, call 0845 0549969 or email info@acnew.org.uk