Coleraine Christmas dinner
2219. Margaret Peacock
Margaret Peacock, aged 76, from Coleraine, has hosted a Christmas Day event for the last 38 years, providing thousands of dinners to those that would have otherwise spent the day alone.
Margaret and her team of volunteers, invite those from the area who are alone over the festive season to register their interest to join them for a Christmas day of friendship, fun, and good food. Funded entirely by Margaret, the volunteers, local community and select local businesses, the day is provided at no cost to those attending. Margaret organises transport to the venue where the volunteers meet guests and, as well as providing a full Christmas dinner, Margaret arranges for entertainment including bingo, a raffle and a gift from Santa Claus, followed by food in the evening. Margaret is holding this year’s event in memory of her brother, Moore Peacock, who passed away in October.
Aside from the annual Christmas dinner, Margaret is also the director of Fibromyalgia Support Northern Ireland (FMSNI), a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing help and support to fibromyalgia sufferers and those who care for them.
In a personal letter to Margaret, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“For almost 40 years, you and your team of volunteers have worked incredibly hard to provide thousands of Christmas dinners to people who might otherwise be alone on Christmas Day. The spirit of bringing people together and helping them to celebrate embodies the true spirit of the festive period.
“I understand that this Christmas was particularly poignant, having lost your brother, Moore, in October. I hope that knowing how much joy you are bringing to others on Christmas Day will help give you comfort as you remember your brother.
“Alongside this, it is fantastic to hear how all year round you are supporting people across Northern Ireland with fibromyalgia, and ensuring those who care for them can also get the support they need.”
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris, said
“After spending four decades ensuring those at risk of spending Christmas alone instead enjoy company and good food, Margaret truly embodies the real meaning of Christmas through her generosity and compassion.
“I congratulate her on this well-deserved award, and wish Margaret, her volunteers and those attending her Christmas dinner a wonderful festive celebration.”
“I am absolutely thrilled to be considered for this award, as for me it highlights the importance and the need for volunteers in our communities.
“I am involved in many ways, being active in my local community as well as the wider community In Northern Ireland, being able to help and assist others, and hopefully break any periods of loneliness that affects so many, as we know the negative effect of this.
“I try and urge everyone to make the time, to enquire from family, friends, neighbours about their day, as I am mindful the time you share with them could mean you are the only person who has made contact with them that day, or that week. You will rest better knowing you made a difference to someone’s day.
“This is why I make such a big issue about Christmas, bringing together people who would otherwise be on their own, quite possibly not even getting a proper meal. My guests tell me they look forward to attending months prior, and they reflect on the great day they had, long after December 25th.
“The true spirit of Christmas for me, is sharing love and goodwill.”
Find out more about ‘Fibromyalgia Support Northern Ireland’