Pensioner ‘overwhelmed’ as Christmas Day offers and first cards in years flood in

By on December 13, 2013
James Gray at his flat in London. Picture copyright: Malcolm McNally/ Irish Post

James Gray at his flat in London. Picture copyright: Malcolm McNally/ Irish Post

IRISH pensioner James Gray has been “completely overwhelmed” by the huge response to his call for somebody to spend Christmas with after spending the past nine years alone.

The 85-year-old turned to The Irish Post in desperation earlier this month, placing an advert in the hope of finding someone to spend December 25 with.

And since we reported his story the retired butler, who is living in south London, has been inundated with offers from prospective companions.

He is now looking forward to receiving his first Christmas cards in years after a Christmas card appeal (see below) from The Irish Post.

“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.”

Mr Gray’s story has taken Ireland and Britain by storm since The Irish Post reported it.

COMMENT: Story that has inspired thousands – but how many more elderly people are forgotten at Christmas?

Major broadcasters, including BBC Five Live, as well as national newspapers on each side of the Irish Sea have joined the campaign to find the 85-year-old a festive friend.

That has led to messages of support from thousands of readers and listeners touched by his story.

A number of people have also offered to help Mr Gray break his lonely streak by having Christmas dinner with him this year.

Volunteers have come from as far away as Scotland’s Isle of Skye and New York in the US.

Mr Gray, who is originally from Midleton, Co Cork,  said he is looking forward to receiving his first Christmas cards in years from some of those who have been in touch with The Irish Post.

“I did not get a single card for my birthday in August, but I just had to put up with it,” he said.

If Mr Gray’s story has touched you and you would like to send him a Christmas card, The Irish Post will is now collecting cards to pass on to him. Please send it to: ‘Mr James Gray’ c/o The Irish Post, Suite A, 1 Lindsey Street, Smithfield, London EC1A 9HP, UK.

 

Some of your hundreds of Tweets. Tweet us your message for James and we’ll print them out for him.

Niall O Sullivan

About Niall O Sullivan

Niall O’Sullivan is a reporter at The Irish Post. You can follow him on @Niall_IrishPost on Twitter

32 Comments

  1. Bridget Keady

    December 13, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Really hope Mr Gray spends time with someone on Xmas day & has a wonderful day. Its lovely so many people have responded to his story.

    God Bless
    Bridget x

  2. Kate

    December 13, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    This is a wonderful response to this story, and one I didn’t doubt would happen. He is not the only one, however, and others may not be as industrious as James. If you know of anyone living near you this Christmas, you should consider calling into them at some stage and spending a few hours there. You may hear an amazing story or two!

    • Adria

      December 24, 2013 at 9:39 pm

      Absolutely! There are too many folks who are lonely and isolated. I truly believe with all my heart that if we are kinder to each other and make time for each other, we’ll witness a sea change in humanity. Thank you, Irish Post, for reporting this story! I am a very proud Irish-American!

  3. Patricia

    December 13, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    We would have gladly invited Mr. Gray to join our family Christmas but we live in South Wexford and it would probably not be possible for him. It was so touching to read his story, and I am delighted to see the warm and positive response to your article in the Irish Post hightlighting his plight.

  4. yasmin jackson

    December 13, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    How do we get Mr greys number? I am not far from Sutton myself x

    • admin

      December 14, 2013 at 7:03 pm

      Hi, if you contact the Irish Post we can pass on your message to James

  5. Lily

    December 14, 2013 at 11:41 am

    I’d be more than happy for Mr Gray to spend Christmas day at my celebrations if he would like to?

    Lily x

  6. Julia

    December 14, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Uruguay is too far, but let him know that God loves him so much that Jesus will be celebrating his birthday with him. If he believe, all is possible.He will appears in some way

  7. Helen Morrissey

    December 14, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    I would gladly have James Gray to join my family this Christmas, although we live in north London so might be too far for him to travel!

  8. Kelly

    December 15, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Australia is another world away but I’m putting a Christmas card in tomorrow’s post. It will probably arrive in the new year but I hope it makes him smile

  9. Marion

    December 15, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Just sent a Christmas card off to him – hope he has a really lovely time.

  10. maeve mclaughlin

    December 15, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Im from Belfast. If he wants a trip back to Ireland he’s more than welcome to join us. Merry Christmas James! God bless.

  11. Toni Davies

    December 16, 2013 at 2:05 am

    Hi James,

    Here’s to hoping your novel approach to sharing Christmas with some pleasant company comes with some lifelong friendships.

    Merriest of Christmas to you,

    Toni (from Ontario, Canada)

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  13. Emma

    December 16, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Wow. I won’t be in London for Christmas, but I’d be delighted to cook for James in January. I live in Hammersmith. The Christmas card is on the way but feel free to contact me via email to arrange.

  14. joan mehl

    December 16, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    I am also alone the last ten years at Christmas. It is a hard time for those of us who have no one to share the day. Two children far away in both distance and spirit. Merry Christmas, dear James, perhaps one to share in the future.

  15. Valerie

    December 16, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Dear Mr.James Gray,
    I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy, healthy New Year of never feeling alone again. When you reach out, the hand of God reaches in and the love of other’s fill our hearts with joy and compassion. There are so many people alone throughout the year but it takes just one person to open their heart so that we can pray for them. God is with them always. God bless you and God bless us, everyone!
    Merry Christmas to all!

    • Valerie

      December 16, 2013 at 5:34 pm

      P.S. Valerie From Boca Raton.Florida

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  18. Geraldine

    December 16, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    James,I read your story and it brought a tear to my eye. U are more than welcome to join us for Christmas. I live about 20 miles away but can collect u? I wl contact the irish post and i have sent u a little card to cheer u up. Happy christmas this year will b different. G

  19. Narsing Brahanpure

    December 16, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Hi,

    I am sending you Christmas card from India my card is on the way enjoy your Christmas and wish you happy new year .

    Regards
    Narsing Brahanpure

  20. eileen clapton

    December 16, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    A Xmas card and a birthday card cost so little no one should be forgotten mine is on its way x

  21. Anna

    December 17, 2013 at 12:01 am

    Merry Christmas James. I’m a Dublin lass living in Toronto,Canada. It’s amazing to see so many kind people spreading the true meaning of Christmas. You are so blessed with people who care. You have so many new friends sending you love and good cheer. Enjoy your Christmas cards.A happy and healthy New Year. May god bless you and keep you safe.

    SLAINTRE

    Anna

    • Lynne

      December 18, 2013 at 2:39 am

      This is nice to read and heartwarming in a world of bad news. However – it’s not just about one day that is Christmas. What about the other 364 days? I have lived alone for the last 10 years, been unemployed/looking for work for a year, busted up with my on off boyfriend and have little surviving family and no children. I have spent a LOT of time alone and have cried with loneliness, despite doing some volunteer work and getting out of the house each day to exercise, or just sit in a cafe to be near other human beings. My mother used to say “Friends are great, but friends go home”. It’s just not the elderly. Don’t forget the other 364 days of the year for people who don’t have the white picket fence, 2.5 children and a loving partner, because fate didn’t smile on them, Christmas is a horribly painful reminder of what wasn’t. I hope the elderly gentleman makes some new friends that will give him some companionship for the rest of the year.

  22. ximena

    December 17, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    greetings from chile and a hug .. merry christmas

  23. Karina Meza

    December 17, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Is really sad to know there is somebody so alone in Christmas. I wolud like to say Merry christmas to Mr. Grey from Chile. If I will be close…..I know we bring him to Christmas dinner with my family!!!

  24. Victor Ortega Vargas

    December 18, 2013 at 1:46 am

    Amigo James, aunque vivo en Chile y no podría acompañarte en estas fiestas, ten claro que no estas solo, muchos si bien no estaremos acompañados en estos bellos días, si nos podemos apoyar mutuamente.
    No hablo ingles, solo español y por eso escribo mi mensaje en mi idioma, esperando que alguien amable lo traduzca. Pero en el mundo nadie, absolutamente nadie está completamente solo. un gran abrazo desde Chile

  25. L.Jones

    December 18, 2013 at 2:36 am

    This is nice to read and heartwarming in a world of bad news. However – it’s not just about one day that is Christmas. What about the other 364 days? I have lived alone for the last 10 years, been unemployed/looking for work for a year, busted up with my on off boyfriend and have little surviving family and no children. I have spent a LOT of time alone and have cried with loneliness, despite doing some volunteer work and getting out of the house each day to exercise, or just sit in a cafe to be near other human beings. My mother used to say “Friends are great, but friends go home”. Don’t forget the other 364 days of the year for people who don’t have the white picket fence, 2.5 children and a loving partner, because fate didn’t smile on them, Christmas is a horribly painful reminder of what wasn’t. I hope the elderly gentleman makes some new friends that will give him some companionship for the rest of the year.

  26. Ignacia Silva M.

    December 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Estimado Sr. Gray:

    Espero le traduzcan mi cordial saludo desde Chile, reciba un saludo fraterno desde este lejano y pequeño país. Feliz Navidad y que sus deseos sean cumplidos en su totalidad. Me encantaría saludarlo personalmente pero estoy un poco lejos…jejeje
    Creo que el obsequio más grande que le puedo dar es un fuerte abrazo!!

    Saludos,

    Ignacia Silva M.

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