Amazing acts of Christmas kindness in Alnwick

An Alnwick landlady has praised the incredible generosity of people in the town after she was inundated with Christmas gifts for the homeless.

Friday, 21st December 2018, 6:00 am
Jackie McDougall, Alex McDougall and Margaret Brennan with some of the items donated. Picture by Jane Coltman

It all started with a simple plea for clothing and supplies on Jackie Mcdougall’s Facebook page on December 4.

She wrote: ‘I’m collecting adult coats, blankets, sleeping bags, back packs, toiletries for both men and women that are homeless in the Newcastle area.

Anna Hopper and Deryn Grey with the Greggs food vouchers they bought by selling sweetie cones. Picture by Jane Coltman

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‘As Christmas approaches, it makes me realise how lucky we are to have our families and friends around us and hope that some of you might have some bits and bobs hanging around that might help people who are not as lucky as us, that coat or blanket will make a real difference to a homeless person and keep them warm in these freezing conditions.’

Since then, the gifts have been rolling in to the Blue Bell Inn in Clayport Street and this week, Jackie and her friend Margaret Brennan made up enough rescue packs to clothe and equip 70 homeless people.

The function room at the back of the pub soon filled with bags and bags of clothes, blankets and provisions.

“The people of Alnwick need recognition for what they have done,” said Jackie, 53. “It has been unreal – beyond my wildest dreams.

“I thought we were never going to see the end of it – the generosity has been overwhelming.

“We have had to hire a Transit van to take the packs down to Newcastle to distribute to people on the streets in the city centre and the rest we will take to the hostels.

“We hope it will make the homeless men and women feel a bit more human.

“The food in the packs should last them three days.”

Jackie had special praise for two Alnwick girls, Deryn Grey and Anna Hopper, both 13 and pupils at Duchess’s Community High School.

They raised £56 by selling sweetie cones and bought Greggs food vouchers with the money.

Jackie was inspired by a similar act of kindness in Manchester by her son Alexander, 20, who is at Liverpool University, and his friend Ellis Martin, also 20, from Amble, who is at the University of Manchester.