Calderdale spreads the Christmas spirit

Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association visiting Calderdale hospital on Christmas day to distribute gifts to children.
Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association visiting Calderdale hospital on Christmas day to distribute gifts to children.

There was plenty of Christmas spirit in the air across Calderdale as charities and groups from the region joined in the festive mood.

Christians Together served up a free Christmas dinner for 80 guests at the New Ebeneezer Centre.

Linda Maslen, who helped organise the event, said: ”We were overwhelmed by the number of people who wanted to volunteer, the number of shops and organisations that donated food and the wonderful Christmas spirit that was generated as everyone arrived.

“Dinner was turkey with all the trimmings followed by a choice of desert. A team of volunteers made the tables themselves look beautiful.

“We would like to say a massive thank you to all the Calderdale organisations that took contributed food and volunteers and to our wonderful guests for coming to join us.”

Halifax couple Paul and Jane Bottomley, who raised £13,000 for Macmillan Cancer Care in Halifax with a series of fundraising events, delivered 40 selection boxes to the children’s ward at Calderdale Royal Hospital.

Alexandra Ainley, from Halifax, also did her bit by handing out presents for children who were in hospital over Christmas.

Her mum Jane said: “She is really into charity work and has supported lots of projects this year such as baking buns for Save The Children, Children In Need and dressing up for various charitiy events for the RSPCA.

“She loves shopping with me in the charity shops and is always donating. She is a really thoughtful young lady and when she grows up wants to be either a teacher, a vet or a midwife.”

Monika Siemienczuk and Jon Lord from Heads Recruitment delivered presents to patients at the Forget Me Not Hospice and Calderdale Royal Hospital.

Halifax MP Linda Riodan visited Royal Mail’s Halifax delivery office to pass on Christmas wishes and encouragement to the postmen and women at their busiest time of year.

Ms Riordan was shown round the office by Delivery Office Manager at Gaol Lane, Simon Figg, and was introduced to the postmen and women.

She said: “It was great to meet the dedicated, hard-working Royal Mail postmen and women at Halifax delivery office and to see first-hand just how much effort they put into delivering for people at this time of year.”

Local businesses were also given a helping hand with a seasonal scheme to boost local trade.

Funded through Calderdale Council’s Economic Task Fund, shoppers spending £5 or more in one of 33 participating shops in Ovenden have been entered into a prize draw to win a £50 festive hamper, with 15 lucky winners receiving a basket-full of goods and vouchers from local shops.

A local youth charity has been spreading some seasonal joy over the past week by visiting elderly homes, children’s hospital wards and homeless centres.

Volunteers from the Huddersfield branch of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) visited Children’s ward at Calderdale Hospital (pictured) and several care homes in the area delivering gifts to sick children, spending time with the elderly and helping serve food to homeless people.

The initiative is part of the AMYA’s national ‘Muslims for Humanity’ campaign in which it’s volunteers are aiming to bring a smile to the vulnerable and sick over the winter. The charity also has in place an emergency relief team to help those impacted by the challenging weather conditions.

Nidaul Haq, a local community champion, said: “As a youth charity we try to educate young people that each of us has a social responsibility to help our local communities, especially those challenged by sickness, homelessness and loneliness. We are trying to do this by getting out into the community and offering our time, smiles and some simple gifts.

“I was extremely touched by the warm response of the local community and by the truly inspirational people we had the pleasure of meeting and serving.”

There was also a super-sized nativity performance involving hundreds of children and a real donkey has raised the roof at Halifax Minster.

Children from across Calderdale were invited to dress up as an angel, shepherd or king and get involved in the event, which took place on Christmas Eve.

The Christingle event was so popular there were two services to accomodate all the children who attended.

Vicar of Halifax, Hilary Barber, said: “This is the busiest time of year for us but as well as being very hectic it is also incredibly enjoyable to see so many people, from so many walks of life, enjoying the Minster and celebrating Christmas with us.”