THE organiser of a huge Christmas charity event in York says he has been overwhelmed by the city's generous response - but says more help is still possible.

Ian Donaghy announced his initial plans for Xmas Presence in The Press earlier this year, and says residents and companies have since responded brilliantly.

The event, at Belfrey Hall in Stonegate, will provide a Christmas Day meal and celebration for more than 40 older York residents who live alone.

He said: "A team of friends, family and volunteers met at the venue on Monday evening to hatch a plan and social media has been buzzing with activity since with offers of making, baking and decorating.

"We are trying to capture the special feeling Christmas had as a child. We will be providing Christmas dinner and a light tea as well, and special hampers filled with homemade gifts, York’s finest produce and wonderful items will be given out to the guests."

Mr Donaghy has worked closely with Age UK. He said: “We realise that there are other groups who could benefit but we can’t be all things to all men."

He said the John Lewis "man on the moon" advert had captured the public's imagination, but he said: “We’re not sending the bloke a telescope - we’re inviting him down for a party!”

York Press:

The idea struck a chord with John Lewis, whose York branch donated £400 to the day. Boyes donated £200 but the biggest donation was from Angela Rennison at Asda at Monks Cross, which is providing all the food for the day free.

Mr Donaghy said: "This is a dream come true. To have such backing is invaluable."

He said similar events happened elsewhere, but rarely on Christmas Day when the need was greatest.

Dave Asbury, a University of York chef has offered to mastermind the catering, musician Kieran White will be joining the event for a Christmas singalong and magician Josh Benson will provide entertainment at the tables.

Mr Donaghy hopes Xmas Presence will demonstrate how a few people coming to together can create a wonderful event; to prompt people to think about what they can do for those around them at Christmas, such as plating up an extra serving of their dinner to give to a neighbour; and to motivate people to be more aware of those in their neighbourhood who need a hand.

Can you help?

Mr Donaghy still hopes a choir may be able to support the event and said: "We need a creative army of warm-hearted people of all ages making cakes, biscuits, decorations, invitation cards, knitted items, presents, cards etc."

He also needs volunteers to help transport guests to and from the event.

Donations can be dropped off at the Me & Mrs Fisher café in Lord Mayor's Walk from 10am to 2pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays.

Anyone else able to help should email