Selfless Paul spreads some festive cheer
For the last four years, the 40-year-old and his devoted volunteers have been busy fundraising, buying food and delivering on Christmas Eve so poor people across the Ribble Valley, Nelson and Burnley can serve up a fabulous feast for their families on Christmas Day.
And he is appealing to under-privileged families who are struggling to afford to buy food this festive season to get in touch.
The father-of-four is a familiar face in Clitheroe and knows the pain of going to sleep on an empty stomach all too well.
Years ago he was juggling three jobs and struggling to make ends meet. He recalls the moment he collapsed and was taken to hospital. He didn’t realise how malnourished he was. “I was too proud to ask for help and continued to struggle,” he said.
“I was in my early 20s and never thought I could be homeless or not have enough food to eat. Despite having three jobs, I was scrimping and saving. I was exhausted and at the end of my tether. It all became too much and I collapsed and was taken to hospital.”
With the help of a family in Rishton family he knew and through extraordinary grit and perseverance, he got back on his feet and is now using his experiences to help others and spread some festive cheer.
He said: “Everyone deserves to be happy on Christmas Day. It gives me sheer delight when I deliver food on Christmas Eve to families who are too proud or upset to visit the foodbank. They are extremely grateful and emotional too. It’s enough to make your eyes fill with tears and make your heart warm. I deliver fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, bread, milk, as well as staple items to keep them going for at least a week.”
After posting an appeal online four years ago, Paul was inundated with offers of help and cash donations from generous folk.
He said: “This initiative has gone from strength-to-strength over the years and we’ve helped dozens of families across East Lancashire. A couple of years ago I helped a woman in Burnley who was desperate for food and now she is one of our volunteers and is delivering food on Christmas Eve.
“The generosity of people has been overwhelming and I am extremely thankful. Last year we raised £300 and were able to feed 10 families, this year we have £1,000 and are looking to deliver food to 25 homes. We’ve had local businesses, organisations and even a nursery fundraising for this magnificent cause.”
Paul, who is the landlord of the Kings Arms, Clitheroe, hopes more and more people will follow in his footsteps.
“Even if I can inspire one person to buy someone a hot drink then it is a positive change.”
Names are now being taken for families in need of food at Christmas. Anyone wishing to contact Paul can do so by calling him on 07877728158.
Meanwhile, Aldi, Clitheroe, has offered to give all its unsold fresh food away to charities and good causes when its store closes on Christmas Eve. The supermarket chain issued an appeal on social media urging organisations to collect items left over after its branches have shut up shop for the festive period.
A statement issued by the firm said it wants to share products out with groups such as foodbanks in support of “less fortunate individuals” in order to “prevent food going to waste”.