An ex-Firefighter from Knaresborough has been ‘overwhelmed’ with support from the local community after offering free Christmas dinners for those who have fallen on hard times.

Bruce Reid, who was involved with North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service for almost 36 years, was keen to provide a meal for individuals and families in need and originally offered to cook those meals from home.

However since putting out his message, Bruce has received support from around 70 people and from Knaresborough Cricket Club, who have offered use of their venue to provide a sit-down meal.

Bruce said:

“I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the response I’ve had since first putting the word out and seeing how many people do want to get involved with this – even on Christmas Day itself.

“I put a message out that myself and my wife could do between 20 and 30 takeaway meals from home if there was anyone interested – and that’s how it started.

“We now have a venue where we can actually have people sat down, and we’ve probably had around 70 people that have offered assistance in one way or another, whether it’s financial donations, offering to prepare food, pick people up or deliver.”

Bruce was involved in a similar initiative last year, in which North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service offered food from their community room in Harrogate.

And a few of those people who were involved have contacted him again this year to see if the Christmas Day meals would continue.

Bruce added:

“We did something similar at Harrogate Fire Station last year in which we opened up the community room and it went viral! The amount of people that got in touch via social media and offered donations and food, it just captured the imagination of a lot of people.

“We ended up catering for around 45/50 people, and those varied from homeless people to individuals who had fallen on hard times, but this was obviously long before Covid-19.

“We did it for completely different reasons – it was just about helping people who, for whatever reason, had fallen on hard times.”

The meals, which will include turkey and all the trimmings, will also provide social interaction for those who have been unable to see others during the pandemic, as well as helping those who have been caring for a partner.

Bruce added:

“My father had suffered from Dementia and my stepmother had spent years looking after him, and it was for people like them – couples who had fallen outside of ‘needing help’ because there was one active person in the family.

“We’ve invited a lot of couples who are looking after their partners.”

If you would like to get involved with the Christmas Day meals around Knaresborough, whether you want to donate financially or can offer some of your time, get in touch with Bruce via email: bruce.reid47@gmail.com or give Bruce a call on 07958 653084.

You can find out more about the initiative via Facebook here, and the group are in the process of setting up a JustGiving page for donations.

Read more local stories from Your Harrogate here.