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Festive community spirit

417. Caroline Billington

A Finance Director from Newbury has helped more than 5,000 elderly people find the gift of company over the last eight years at christmas time.

Caroline Billington, 54, set up her charity Community Christmas with the vision that no elderly person in the UK should be alone on Christmas Day unless they want to be. The idea for the charity began in 2007, when she volunteered to drive a community bus, ferrying elderly people to and from a Christmas lunch.

From this starting point, the movement grew. She began organising her own Christmas lunches and in 2011 Community Christmas was born. Last year 242 Christmas Day events where elderly people can find companionship and a Christmas lunch were listed on its website with nearly 300 already listed this year ranging from pubs to community halls up and down the UK.

Caroline oversees one lunch herself on Christmas day. From arranging transport to organising quizzes and lunch deliveries, Caroline manages both her charity’s local effort as well as coordinating it nationally. Caroline is now looking to expand the Charity and help to help communities across the UK set up 1,000 events this year.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Community Christmas is a fantastic initiative helping thousands of older people around the UK to enjoy a Christmas lunch together. Caroline has a wonderful mission to ensure that no elderly person in the UK should be alone on Christmas Day unless they want to be. Her simple idea of bringing together hundreds of Christmas events on one website, from huge events for hundreds of people to a table in a local pub, has helped thousands of people to find company and have fun at Christmas. To the older people she helps to enjoy a traditional Christmas, Caroline is truly a Point of Light.”

Caroline said:

“I am honoured that our work in connecting communities by using Christmas as a trigger for change is being recognised. We hear about fantastic initiatives all round the country but know that so much more is needed. I hope that the award will encourage more to take share what they are doing and others to take action to address that need so that communities get stronger for the longer term.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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