Christmas comes early as festive stir-up takes place

Bertha Rolfe, Anne Marie Trevelyan and Jolanda Chrisp.
Bertha Rolfe, Anne Marie Trevelyan and Jolanda Chrisp.

Christmas came early to a north Northumberland home for older people as they took part in a Christmas cake stir-up event last week.

Older people’s housing and care charity The Abbeyfield Society marked 100 days to the big day by organising the events up and down the country.

And one of the charity’s sites that took part was Armstrong House in Bamburgh.

For 90-year-old resident Bertha Rolfe, the event was a chance to relive happy, childhood memories.

“We used to always go around to an old aunt’s to help stir the Christmas cake mixture,” she said. “It was her secret recipe and the cake always tasted wonderful.

“She told us that stirring the mixture was meant to bring good luck to everyone and it was always something I looked forward to.

“Everyone was given a turn to have a stir – even just a quick one – it made you feel very involved in the whole process.

“It was quite a magical thing for a child. And we children had the chance to lick the bowl too.”

It’s a baking custom that traditionally takes place on the last Sunday in November, but Abbeyfield brought forward its Christmas stir-up in advance of Advent to mark the festive countdown landmark and, more poignantly, to highlight the fact that older people are already fearful about spending Christmas alone.

Abbeyfield chief executive Natasha Singarayer said: “Here at Abbeyfield, we’ve decided to get in advance of the Advent tradition and hold Christmas cake stir-up events that older people can enjoy with others, talking about and reminiscing over their own experiences of making the family Christmas cake.

“But this event will also mark the sad fact that with 100 days still to go until Christmas many older people are already fearful about being alone.

“It is absolutely heartbreaking that Abbeyfield is already receiving calls from lonely, older people who are worried about being by themselves at Christmas.

“We want to deliver the message loud and clear that they absolutely don’t have to be alone.”

Abbeyfield runs an annual campaign called Coping at Christmas. The initative offers company and companionship to isolated over-55s through free events including entertainment, meals and overnight stays.

Joining in the event at Armstrong House was Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who said: “I’m delighted to be taking part in the Christmas cake stir-up in Bamburgh – it’s such a fantastic concept and a great way to support Abbeyfield’s Coping at Christmas campaign.

“For many elderly people, Christmas can be a time of immense loneliness. It shouldn’t be that way, and with the Coping at Christmas scheme, it doesn’t have to be.”