A HUGE community effort ensured many elderly and vulnerable residents in the Tyne Valley were given a much-needed boost over the festive period.

Schools, businesses, and a wealth of volunteers contributed to the project, which brightened up Christmas for residents at Haydon View Care Home at Haydon Bridge, and Lowgate Care Home near Hexham.

The residents received a selection of gifts, while pupils from schools at Hexham and Haydon Bridge wrote comforting messages in Christmas cards.

The idea came about when Chris Mackey, who is part of the catering team at Lowgate Care Home, expressed his concerns that residents would endure a difficult time over the festive period, with Covid restrictions preventing them from seeing their loved ones.

Chris, of Haydon Bridge, mentioned this to his friend John Turner, which led to John’s wife Hayley asking people to donate cards and gifts. She teamed up with another volunteer, Katie Murray, and it swiftly became a much wider community scheme.

Karen Officer, manager at Lowgate said: “Chris was the catalyst that made this happen. He probably doesn’t even realise what a brilliant thing he’s done!

“Life in care homes has not been the norm this year. I have been completely overwhelmed by the wonderful community spirit. The team at Lowgate always go over and above for the residents and we all feel privileged to look after our elderly community. It is such a wonderful feeling to know others care so much too.”

Haydon Bridge’s Shaftoe Trust Primary School, and Hexham’s Queen Elizabeth High School pupils also played their part.

A QEHS spokesman said: “QEHS students jumped at the chance to get involved when we were approached to see if we were interested in taking part.

“This year has been difficult for everyone, regardless of age, and simple acts of kindness such as this can make a huge difference. Our students have shown a mature and caring attitude and have really taken the time to compose genuine messages of hope in over 200 cards.”

Deliveries of cards and gifts, following donations from individuals and businesses, were made after all items had been quarantined.

Volunteers from the Haydon Bridge Covid Group teamed up with Age UK to deliver care and activity packs to vulnerable and elderly people living in the village.

It follows similar initiatives earlier in the year which have been very well received.