Hero dad-of-four is a real life Father Christmas for vulnerable families across Burnley, Pendle and Ribble Valley

A father-of-four, who knows only too well the heartache of struggling to make ends meet, is hoping he will be able to provide a Christmas dinner for up to 150 families in Lancashire.

Now in its sixth year, Hacker's Christmas Dinners started with £100 that helped to put festive food on the table for nine families in 2015. Started by Clitheroe businessman Paul Hacker, the appeal grew and grew and in 2019 51 families, including several living in Burnley, Padiham, Nelson and Clitheroe, benefitted from the appeal.

Paul already has a list of 80 families he will help but, in the countdown to the big day next week, he wants to push that number up to 150 as donations have risen to £3,000.

"In the last few years this has taken over my life as it has grown so much," said Paul who is 43. "There were times when I did consider stopping but there was just no way I could do that and especially not after the year we have all had.

Paul with his children Joelisha (18), 15-year-old Ruby Olivia (seven) and four-year-old Harrison

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"I love doing it, it's as simple as that and the support and help I receive from individuals and businesses through voilunteering, donations and fundraising makes it all worth while.

"This is for people who are struggling to pay their bills, who maybe need a bit of extra help but may be too proud to ask."

The former landlord at the Kings Arms in Clitheroe, who now runs the So Sports bar in the town, Paul also his own business P H Sealants Ltd.

Hacker's Christmas Dinners has evolved from people writing scribbled notes or making phone calls and sending texts to the setting up of an online link where people can nominate families for help and also make a donation to swell the funds. Paul's friend, Steve Wild, set this all up for him free of charge.

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Harrison helps out with some of the shopping for Hacker's Christmas Dinner last year.

And along with the Christmas dinner package Paul has been able to include food to last families for a week along with other household essentials such as washing powder.

Paul said: "I know what it's like to have nothing and to be struggling to make ends meet."

At the age of 19 and trying to work three jobs, Paul collapsed and was rushed to hospital he was thatmalnourished. He may not have realised how ill he was but he was also too proud to ask for help.

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With the support of a family he knew in his hometown of Rishton Paul was able to get back on his feet but he has never forgotten the experience and is determined to help others who find themselves in the same situation through no fault of their own.

Paul's children, Joelisha (18), 15-year-old Ruby Olivia (seven) and four-year-old Harrison, are even among the band of volunteers and helpers who get involved. This year Morrison's in Great Harwood has donated £200 and is also offering a 15 per cent discount on Paul's bill for the appeal.

And this year he he is running an online raffle to raise funds and the prizes include a Samsung Galaxy phone and a retro arcade games machine that have both been donated by wellwishers.

Paul said: "I am really grateful to the many people who help us out every year and if anyone would like to help with packing and deliveries on Christmas Eve they would be more than welcome."

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Anyone who would like to help is asked to contact Paul through his facebook page.