Abbeyfield gets into the Bake Off spirit!


Christmas came early at older people’s housing and care charity The Abbeyfield Society which marked 100 days to the big day itself by rising to the occasion with a batch of Christmas Cake Stir Up events across the country. Older people living alone in the community joined residents at Abbeyfield houses and donned aprons and wielded wooden spoons to join in the communal tradition of stirring up the Christmas cake ingredients ahead of a national Abbeyfield Christmas cake bake off.

It’s a baking custom that traditionally takes place on the last Sunday in November, but Abbeyfield brought its Christmas stir up forward in advance of Advent, to mark the festive countdown landmark and, more poignantly, to highlight the fact that older people are already fearful about spending Christmas alone.

Abbeyfield chief executive Natasha Singarayer said: “Stirring up the Christmas cake with its heady mix of festive smells and decadent ingredients is a nostalgic and therapeutic tradition that many older people would once enjoy with their families.

“Here at Abbeyfield we decided to get in advance of the Advent tradition and hold our Christmas cake stir up events in September to highlight the sad fact that with one hundred days still to go until Christmas many older people are already fearful about being alone.”

Great British Bake off at Abbeyfield

Abbeyfield runs an annual Coping at Christmas campaign, which aims to tackle loneliness amongst older people during the festive period. The initiative offers company and companionship to isolated over 55s through free events including entertainment, meals and overnight stays at its 500-plus houses during the extended Christmas season.

Food will be a major ingredient in Abbeyfield’s 2015 Coping at Christmas campaign, which launches in November.

A recent poll conducted by Abbeyfield found that 89 per cent of people aged between 65 and 80 surveyed who lived alone said that being in the company of other people was key to a good Christmas, with 78 per cent opting for laughing and hearing others laugh, and 73 per cent stating that sharing food in the company of others was the recipe for a happy Christmas.

For 90-year-old Bertha Rolfe (right), a resident at Abbeyfield’s Armstrong House in Bamburgh, Northumberland, the Stir Up event was a chance to relive happy, childhood memories.

Bertha said: “We used to always go around to an old Aunt’s to help stir the Christmas Cake mixture. It was her secret recipe and the cake always tasted wonderful.  She told us that stirring the mixture was meant to bring good luck to everyone and it was always something I looked forward to. Everyone was given a turn to have a stir – even just a quick one – it made you feel very involved in the whole process. It was quite a magical thing for a child. And we children had the chance to lick the bowl too!"

Joining in the Christmas Cake Stir Up event at Armstrong House was MP for Berwick upon Tweed, Anne Marie Trevelyan (centre), who said: “I’m delighted to be taking part in the Christmas Cake Stir Up in Bamburgh – it’s such a fantastic concept, and a great way to support Abbeyfield’s Coping at Christmas campaign.  For many elderly people, Christmas can be a time of immense loneliness.  It shouldn’t be that way, and with the Coping at Christmas scheme, it doesn’t have to be.”

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