A pub in Bromley is opening its heart and doors to senior citizens on Christmas Day who would otherwise be alone.
The team at the Crown and Anchor came together last year to give elderly people companionship and a smile on Christmas Day. It was so magical that the owner has decided to do it again.
After splitting from his wife, pub landlord Martin Lloyd decided against a Christmas Day alone, and thought he would use his pub to bring joy and spirit to those who didn’t have anyone to celebrate, eat, and drink with.
Martin, who is very humble and keen to keep the focus on the cause, spoke to UNILAD about why he holds the annual festive gathering:
Last year I split up with my wife and I was thinking, ‘I’m going to be on my own on Christmas Day’ and I thought ‘you’ve got a pub so do something good’, so I put a little post in the local old folks home about doing free lunches for them.
The response was phenomenal, we only had 13 people come but the community pulled together and I was being offered free taxis, floral displays, flowers, the veg man donated, the meat man donated, my wine supplier donated, my brewery donated.
We had people coming in and volunteering to wait tables and wash dishes, it was just a magical day, it was really really good. We were so inundated with donations of presents and money, every single guest went home with a black sack full of presents, and we had some left over which we donated to charity.
Since it was ‘one of the most satisfying days’ Martin had ever had, he decided to do it again, and plans on holding the free dinner every year for the elderly people.
Martin posted on the Crown and Anchor Facebook page, invited people in his local area to the lunch, and his post blew up, receiving over 62.5k shares.
Talking about the support he’s had this year, Martin said:
The post has just gone mental, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing with people wishing us well, offering to help out, a guy phoned up yesterday saying he’d donate all the veg.
The community spirit is coming together. When you get old people phoning up saying ‘this isn’t a scam is it? can I come?’ I’m like ‘yeah of course you can’. I’ve had old girls on the phone in tears, it’s so worthwhile doing, it’s fantastic.
As well as offering a free festive lunch to as many people as he can fit into his pub, Martin is also offering transport to the pub.
While only 13 people attended the lunch last year, Martin said ‘at the rate the phone keeps ringing, it’ll be about 50 to 60 people maybe’ this year.
Talking about how the festive period can be the loneliest time of the year, he said:
The food and drink is for nothing, it’s the companionship and not having someone on their own for Christmas day.
If you’ve got no family around you at Christmas time, you’re sitting on your own and watching telly, and there’s all these Christmas movies of families coming together with all the hugs and kisses, and you’re sitting there thinking ‘I haven’t got anyone,’ it’s gutting.
Despite being overwhelmed by the amount of positive publicity the pub’s event has garnered, Martin hates the thought of having to turn anyone who will be lonely on Christmas Day away if it gets too inundated with bookings.
I’m only a small pub, only a one man band and I’ve got a tiny kitchen, it’s how much I can actually produce. I don’t want to be turning people away.
When asked if he would continue the event in the future, he said:
Yeah I’ll be continuing it in the future, it’s a nice thing to do and I do get a lot of pleasure from it.
You get to meet new people and the old folks on their own, you sit and have a chat with them and they’ve all got stories to tell.
There’s nothing better than putting a smile on someone’s face and not having anything for it. You can’t put a price tag on that. When you get a little old lady who’s 80 or 90 years old, giving you a hug and saying thank you for Christmas dinner, you can’t put a price tag on that.
Martin has children, so will be seeing them on Christmas morning before spreading the joy to the older people in his community.
In 2013, Age UK estimated that around 450,000 over-65s face Christmas Day alone in the UK, so it’s great to see communities coming together to combat it.
Thank you to Martin and the team at Crown and Anchor for making the world a better place.
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