Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Pam cooks up a festive treat

Pam Clarkson in the kitchen on Christmas Day last year

Far from putting her feet up and relaxing on Christmas Day, a retired licensee from Rothwell will be cooking a five-course Christmas lunch for 93 elderly locals.

Pam Clarkson, who used to run a pub in Carlton, volunteered to take on the task of making sure that vulnerable elderly people in the area got their share of festive cheer when she retired 11 years ago and the previous organiser was no longer able to do it. When she started there were 17 elderly or disabled people that were invited to the meal. The numbers have been steadily increasing over the years with a massive 108 guests last year. The meal is cooked and served at Blackburn Hall in Rothwell, which is made available for the day free of charge.

Pam, 71, an active member of the Rothwell District Lions, organises the whole event from start to finish including fundraising to pay for food and gifts, and doing all the shopping, cooking and gift buying for everyone that comes on the day. She has a team of volunteers who also give up time with their own families to help with transporting the guests from their homes to the venue and back again, serving the food and clearing up afterwards.

The guests are offered tea, coffee and biscuits when they arrive at Blackburn Hall on Christmas Day. A local minister then delivers a short Christmas service whilst the finishing touches are made to the meal. Dinner is served at 12.30pm followed by Christmas carols played by the Rothwell Temperance Band. Gift bags containing chocolates and biscuits are handed out and the guests are ready to leave at around 3.30pm. Pam also arranges for gift bags to be taken to the police officers and firefighters that work on Christmas day in the area as a thank you to them. As people leave the hall, they are handed a package containing a sandwich, sausage roll, cheese and Christmas cake to take home for their tea.

Pam, who can’t speak highly enough of the volunteers that come along to help her out on Christmas Day said:
“My Christmas helpers turn up year after year to help me make the day really special for the elderly people in Rothwell. They must have hearts as big as buckets to give up time with their own families to spread a bit of festive cheer, and I can’t thank them enough for their help.

“People say to me that at my age I should give up catering for so many people at Christmas time, but I absolutely love doing it. Its like a Christmas present to myself and I hope to keep doing it for as long as I possibly can.”

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member with responsibility for volunteering in Leeds said:
“This is a wonderful example of what can be achieved through volunteering. Pam is simply amazing, and her commitment and dedication to making Christmas so special for this number of older people is just fantastic!

“I would like to thank her and all her helpers for their incredible efforts, and wish them and all their guests a very Merry Christmas.”


For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578
Email: claire.macklam@leeds.gov.uk