HUNDREDS of pensioners from York have enjoyed their first taste of 2012 Christmas cheer.

The Lord Mayor of York, Coun Keith Hyman, has invited 800 residents to a series of festive receptions at the Assembly Rooms in Blake Street. The first two 200-seat sittings took place yesterday.

The receptions also commemorate the York 800 celebrations, with another due to take place next Monday, for which tickets are still available.

Anne Platt, civic service co-ordinator at the Mansion House, said the event had gone well, and hoped next week’s would be even better.

She said: “It was a really festive occasion and really brightened peoples’ mornings.

“It was a fantastic occasion. We were joined by Steve Cassidy, who sang some songs and also the York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir, and everyone had a really good time, despite the weather.

“It’s a chance for people to have a bit of festive fun. I think the weather has put a few people off coming into town this week, but we’re aiming for the full 400 next week.”

As well as being treated to live entertainment, guests were served refreshments including sandwiches, mince pies and tea and coffee, with every guest also given a raffle ticket, with prizes including shopping vouchers, meals out and books.

Numerous York businesses donated £500 each to help fund the Christmas Cheer events, including shoe company Pavers, TSYS, Benenden, Santander, the Yorkshire Building Society and the Shepherd Group. Tesco Extra Askham Bar agreed to provide 800 mince pies and 800 Christmas crackers.

Some free tickets are still available for next Monday’s events, which take place at 10am and 2pm.

Anyone who is aged over 65 from York can apply for the tickets by phoning the Guildhall reception on 01904 551010, or by picking them up in person.

Tickets can also be posted, providing the request is made before midday on Wednesday.