CHRISTMAS came early for more than 100 pensioners who live alone in County Durham.

Older people’s charity The Abbeyfield Society joined forces with pub company The Inn Collection Group and Age UK County Durham to throw a free party for older people living in social isolation.

Durham city pub The Kingslodge Inn was packed out with pensioners enjoying a free Christmas lunch, entertainment and the company of others.

John Ward, 83, who lives in rural area County Durham, has lived alone since his wife died ten years ago. He often goes days at a time without speaking to anyone with only the television and radio for company.

He said: “It gets lonely at any time when you are by yourself, but especially at Christmas. It’s been lovely having a bit of company and seeing everyone enjoying themselves and having a proper Christmas dinner and a pint. This has been my Christmas Day.”

The event was part of Abbeyfield’s annual #Companionship at Christmas campaign which provides vulnerable and isolated people over 55 with free overnight stays at Abbeyfield houses and homes as well as free meals, entertainment and companionship.