The story of the loneliest Irishman, which has touched the hearts of people worldwide, got the hoped-for happy ending on Christmas Day.
James Gray, an 85-year-old Irish pensioner in London, took out an ad seeking company for Christmas, as he feared facing his tenth Christmas alone again.
The former butler, who once worked for the American Embassy and met Ronald Reagan, has finally been granted the Christmas miracle he had dreamed of for the past nine years as he spent Christmas day in the company of others.
The Irish Post reports that the Cork native’s wishes have been answered by London-Irish couple Marian and John Cunningham, who volunteered to join him for Christmas dinner.
“To me this is like a miracle come true,” said James, a retired butler living in south London.
“I never imagined people would be so touched by my story.”
Galway-native Marian added, “I volunteered to spend Christmas Day with James because I thought it was so brave of him to put up his hands and say he is lonely.
“It really pulled at my heartstrings when he said he said he thought he was the only person in this situation, because he really is not.”
Following the appeal through The Irish Post newspaper a worldwide wave of affection for the 85-year-old has meant he has received over 1,000 letters, and many gifts of support. The Irish Post reveals that the pensioner received offers from across Britain and letters have come from Chile, the US, Australia, and Japan. He was also swamped by cards from Ireland and his native Cork.
More than 1,700 of cards and gifts have also been sent to James since the campaign was launched.
“I have received over 1,000 cards and I won’t be eating Christmas dinner alone,” said an overwhelmed James.
“All I was looking for with my advert was half-a-dozen pensioners to have Christmas dinner with me, so I would not be lonely once again this year.
“For someone like me, who has not had company in years, this is all very hard to take in. I am so amazed people have taken the time to do this.”
It appears that this Christmas miracle is one the pensioner will not forget in a hurry. A far cry from the previous nine lonely Christmas nights, he had a much enjoyed day with his new friends.
“I was so touched by James’s story when i first read it,” said John Cunningham, a retired surveyor with roots in Co. Kilkenny and Co. Down.
“Every Christmas you always read charity appeals about lonely people. But you never understand how bad it is until you read something like James’s story.”