Pensioner takes out advert to avoid tenth Christmas alone
AN Irish pensioner who is facing his tenth Christmas on his own has started taking out adverts in a bid to find someone to spend the day with.
James Gray fears that he will mark one decade of Christmas dinners alone this year if he doesn't find a companion by December 25.
The 85-year-old, who is now based in London, said he cannot even remember the last time he saw someone else on Christmas Day.
Earlier this month, Mr Gray, began placing adverts in a UK newspaper hoping to establish a pensioners group to spend the holiday with.
The retired butler was left disappointed when only one person responded to his advertisement in 'The Irish Post' newspaper.
His hopes were dashed further when the respondent later told him she would be spending Christmas Day with someone else.
The pensioner, who has no immediate family to call on, is facing another Christmas dinner for one, unless more respondents make contact with him.
Mr Gray, who marked Christmas lunch last year with smoked salmon and prawns on his own, said: "I just want to find someone in time," he told 'The Irish Post'.
"I am used to the loneliness, but I do not want it to be the same this year.
"I think there must be quite a few lonely people around and I am on my own, so it would make sense if someone came here for Christmas lunch.
"I think the last time I saw someone on Christmas Day was when I saw my accountant about 10 years ago.
"This time of year is so hard if you are old and alone because it feels like everybody else around you are enjoying themselves," he added.
Irish organisation Alone, a support network for older people, has warned the public to think about relatives and neighbours on their own this Christmas.
According to recent CSO figures, 10pc of people over the age of 65 are at risk of poverty.
"We are strongly urging the public to think of older people who might be isolated and alone in their community, and to take the time to visit and check on levels of heating and food," Sean Moynihan, CEO of Alone, said.