In one of the most heart wrenching appeals witnessed by people worldwide, Irish born pensioner James Gray is getting his Christmas wish granted this festive season.
Mr James Gray placed an advert in The Irish Post seeking pensioners to celebrate with him this Christmas, as he feared he would be alone again during the festive period, having spent the previous nine alone.
The retired butler had hoped the advert would attract responses but was left disappointed when only one person replied, who has since cancelled because she is spending the day with someone else.
His luck has certainly changed in the past week, as he has been overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of people who have responded to his plight.
The Irish Post launched a Christmas card appeal to make sure the pensioner received some Christmas cards this year, but had no idea the response would be so great.
““Do you really need such a big box? Or is that just for the photo,” James laughed outside his south London flat on the arrival of Irish Post journalists with the box of cards.
Then he took the lid off.
“You said this was just the first lot,” he exclaimed, glaring with wide, shocked eyes into his box of cards.
“I thought maybe there would be nine or 10 cards because I didn’t get a single one for my birthday.
“But these are going to keep me busy until the New Year!”
The Irish Post delivered nearly 300 Christmas cards to the 85-year-old, who spent his last nine Christmases alone before reaching out earlier this month.
Mr Gray is one of nearly half a million pensioners in the UK who face spending Christmas alone, according to figures released by Age UK.
The Independent in England has reported that a Liverpool based politician Cllr Jake Morrison former Wavertree in Liverpool is hoping to track down 85-year-old James Gray to invite him to a Christmas day gathering he has organised for pensioners who would otherwise spend the day alone. He has offered to provide travel to and from London and a hotel for Mr Grey.
The pensioner has since said he has been "completely overwhelmed" by the public response since his story was reported, and told The Irish Post he has been inundated with offers from people who would like to be his companion for the day.
“It is so touching to me, after all these years alone, to see this response from people,” he said. “I’m so appreciative of the offers. I should have done this years ago.”