Singing school children are stars of the show at elderly Christmas lunch in east Leeds

Singing school children helped lift the spirits of the elderly community in east Leeds at a festive lunch organised by health chiefs to combat loneliness.
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Pupils from Richmond Hill Academy were stars of the show at a Christmas lunch held at Richmond Hill Community Centre for elderly and frail members of the local community.

All the guests were patients of the three GP surgeries - The Garden Surgery and Shaftesbury Medical Centre in Osmondthorpe and nearby York Road Medical Centre - which make up the York Road Primary Care Network (PCN).

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Pupils from Richmond Hill Academy sing carols at York Road Primary Care Network's Christmas lunch. Picture: Jonathan GawthorpePupils from Richmond Hill Academy sing carols at York Road Primary Care Network's Christmas lunch. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Pupils from Richmond Hill Academy sing carols at York Road Primary Care Network's Christmas lunch. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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Louise Evans, the PCN’s care co-ordinator, who organised the lunch, said: “It went really well. All the patients had a great time.

“The children were brilliant. They brought song sheets as well. A lot of our patients joined in with the singing.”

She said she saw one man moved to tears watching the children perform.

“It obviously evoked a lot of feeling for him, seeing the school children there,” she said.

Pupils from Richmond Hill Academy sang carols at the Christmas lunch. Picture: Jonathan GawthorpePupils from Richmond Hill Academy sang carols at the Christmas lunch. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Pupils from Richmond Hill Academy sang carols at the Christmas lunch. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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The guests also enjoyed a two-course roast beef dinner, provided by Richmond Hill Elderly Action (RHEA), as well as bingo games and quizzes.

The event was organised through the PCN's ‘population health management’ project which focuses on the local elderly and frail population and ways to help them become more socially active and less isolated.

Louise said: “We do pop-up lunches throughout the year but this was the first Christmas event.

Elderly and frail patients of the York Road Primary Care Network were invited to the Christmas lunch. Picture: Jonathan GawthorpeElderly and frail patients of the York Road Primary Care Network were invited to the Christmas lunch. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Elderly and frail patients of the York Road Primary Care Network were invited to the Christmas lunch. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

“A lot of our patients are elderly and frail and they might not go anywhere for Christmas, literally spending Christmas alone. So it was lovely for them to get out and have a bit of socialising with other people as well.

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“It’s a well-known fact that people don’t just suffer medically with health issues. Social issues are very important as well and social issues can bring on isolation and loneliness, which can have a knock-on effect on health issues.

“I think it’s just as important to tackle social aspects as it is medical.”

She said the Christmas lunch reunited two former colleagues who had not seen each other for 40 years and also sparked arrangements for future meet-ups among some.

“A lot of feedback was ‘thank you so much’ and ‘I was worried I was going to spend Christmas alone’.

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”A handful of people that were there have arranged meet ups of their own.

“This was to try to help them form friendship and not be so lonely so in that respect it worked really well.”

Georgina Bake, creative curriculum lead at Richmond Hill Academy, said: "The children have worked exceptionally hard to learn the songs and the final performance was brilliant.

"They smiled all the way through, sang beautifully and really enjoyed talking to members of the audience afterwards.

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"It was a wonderful way to start the Christmas celebrations."

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