Christmas comes early for Good Morning Larne

Asda Larne Community Champion, Catherine McCallion (far left) surprises Barbara-Ann, Good Morning Larne Co-ordinator with Asda Larne colleagues.
Asda Larne Community Champion, Catherine McCallion (far left) surprises Barbara-Ann, Good Morning Larne Co-ordinator with Asda Larne colleagues.

Local befriending service Good Morning Larne has received an early Christmas present thanks to a £10,000 donation from the Asda Foundation.

Asda Larne’s Community Champion Catherine McCallion surprised Good Morning Larne’s Barbara-Ann Gilchrist this week with the donation for the service she runs for local elderly people who live on their own.

Asda Larne Community Champion, Catherine McCallion surprises Barbara-Ann, Good Morning Larne Co-ordinator.

Asda Larne Community Champion, Catherine McCallion surprises Barbara-Ann, Good Morning Larne Co-ordinator.

Catherine nominated Good Morning Larne for the first of a series of Christmas grants from the Asda Foundation – and sprang the surprise at a party for volunteers and people who use the support service.

Asda’s Christmas community campaign is celebrating the hard work, which often goes unrecognised – of volunteers, carers and fellow Asda colleagues who dedicate their own time and efforts to helping other people.

Supported by grants from the Asda Foundation, its aim is to help spread festive cheer in local communities throughout December for those who may need a little extra support this Christmas time.

Barbara-Ann, Good Morning Larne Co-ordinator said: “I can’t believe it! It’s a great Christmas present for us – and it’s going to make an immense difference.”

Good Morning Larne is a telephone befriending service which sees volunteers call the elderly, isolated and vulnerable for a chat every weekday morning, provide companionship and organise social get-togethers for people who may otherwise be on their own.

Catherine volunteers with the group every week, and she went along with other colleagues from Asda Larne to help out at their Christmas lunch.

She said: “I hid the cheque in a large cracker and invited Barbara-Ann to open it, telling her there was a surprise in it for her.

“I asked her to read how much it was and she couldn’t believe it – she kept counting the noughts to check it really was £10,000. She kept saying ‘Oh my God’. Then we hugged and started dancing around. Barbara-Ann and I have a great relationship, so it was amazing for me to give her this surprise.”

Barbara-Ann said: “It’s an enormous amount of money for us – it takes the financial pressure off us.

“We’ll use some of the money to take the service users to more social events and extend our men’s activity group. It really does ease the financial pressure.

“The people we speak to could be recently bereaved, isolated or just needing friendship on the phone. Also, in the winter, people are out and about less and it’s also a sad time of year for people who have lost somebody. Catherine is wonderful. She’s so helpful and hands on – she’s a huge asset to Asda and the community.”

Catherine has volunteered with the group for four years after they first appeared in our in-store green token vote supporting three local good causes.

She said: “Every Thursday I help make phone calls to people who have been recommended for the service by social workers, doctors or friends. It’s mainly elderly people who are on their own, to have a chat with them and check everything is ok. It’s particularly important for people to hear a friendly voice at this time of year.”

Set up in 1988, the Asda Foundation is a registered charity that aims to have a positive impact on local communities, making independent grants to provide support to a range of local good causes, chosen by Asda’s community life colleagues throughout the UK.

It funds charitable projects and activities what have the ability and potential to achieve change for the better – with the aim of making a significant difference to local communities and the people who live there, both now and in the future.