Watch: Emmerdale duo launch festive friendship campaign in Leeds

1
Have your say

They are gearing up for a tearjerking December storyline that will break hearts and set the stage for the end of their 15 year TV journey together.

But Emmerdale stars Charlotte Bellamy and John Middleton took a break from filming yesterday to spread some pre-festive joy instead.

29 November 2016 .......     Emmerdale actors John Middleton and Charlotte Bellamy visit MHA volunteers and members of the Live At Home Scheme to launch the MHAs Good Deed-Cember campaign at Central Methodist Church in Horsforth.  Picture Tony Johnson

29 November 2016 ....... Emmerdale actors John Middleton and Charlotte Bellamy visit MHA volunteers and members of the Live At Home Scheme to launch the MHAs Good Deed-Cember campaign at Central Methodist Church in Horsforth. Picture Tony Johnson

The duo, who play Laurel and Ashley Thomas in the long running Dales-set soap, visited the Horsforth MHA Live At Home Scheme to launch a brand new campaign encouraging people to look out for their elderly neighbours this Christmas.

The #GoodDeedCember campaign will highlight isolation and loneliness amongst older people, and show that by connecting people with their local communities, the growing crisis can be alleviated.

John and Charlotte performed their own good deeds yesterday, chatting to older people, serving festive mince pies and helping write Christmas cards and address envelopes.

Their on-screen characters are undergoing their own struggle with loneliness and isolation.

29 November 2016 .......     Emmerdale actors John Middleton and Charlotte Bellamy visit MHA volunteers and members of the Live At Home Scheme to launch the MHAs Good Deed-Cember campaign at Central Methodist Church in Horsforth.  Picture Tony Johnson

29 November 2016 ....... Emmerdale actors John Middleton and Charlotte Bellamy visit MHA volunteers and members of the Live At Home Scheme to launch the MHAs Good Deed-Cember campaign at Central Methodist Church in Horsforth. Picture Tony Johnson

Ashley has been diagnosed with vascular dementia, and the charity MHA - which is behind the Good Deed-Cember campaign - has been advising on the storyline, including the upcoming special episode from Ashley’s point of view.

John said: “We are very happy to support this initiative. Everybody might need a little bit of help, more than normally, round about this time of year. What we hope is that it kickstarts a relationship for the rest of the year.”

He added that despite the emotional dementia storyline eventually involving him leaving the soap, it was the “best story I have been given as an actor” and he couldn’t say no to it.

“It was only when I started doing the research that I realised what an enormous responsibility it was and that we had to get it right,” he added.

Charlotte explained that Ashley’s storyline also highlights how isolating the onset of dementia can be, for both the person who is suffering and for their carer.

And she added that although powerful and compelling to act in, filming the storyline was “bittersweet” both personally and professionally, as the “tragic love story” would mean the end of a 15 year screen partnership.

Speaking of the star duo’s visit, Sally Metcalfe, manager of the Horsforth Live at Home scheme, said: “Today has been wonderful.”

She added; “We are always looking for new volunteers for befriending, bringing people in if they can’t come on their own for an activity, or if they have been isolated for a long time.

“It can be quite daunting going to a new environment, so just having someone who comes with you the first time is lovely.

“We see the difference it makes to people.

“When you see them blossom and get something out of what we do, it makes it so rewarding.”

She added: “The campaign is about being aware of your neighbours, being aware that sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference.”

Among the guests enjoying the celebrity visit yesterday was Doreen Bairstow, who has been attending activities at Central Methodist Church for five months since she lost her husband of 65 years, Clifford.

She said the group provides a comfort and a lifeline for her.

She added it had been “lovely” having John and Charlotte visit as she has been a fan of Emmerdale since the show started more than 40 years ago.