THE true spirit of Christmas was to the fore at an Urmston pub.

A group of pensioners was treated to Christmas lunch at The Bird I’Th Hand on Flixton Road, as brewer Heineken’s national Brewing Good Cheer campaign, which will see 50 pubs across the country put on a free festive lunch for hundreds of socially isolated people.

Nineteen senior citizens and volunteers from Wythenshawe Good Neighbours weekly lunch and social club joined licensee James Laybats at his pub for a three course Christmas dinner, music and presents.

Mr Laybats said after the bash on December 13: “Wythenshawe Good Neighbours creates invaluable opportunities for senior citizens to meet up and enjoy a good meal together.

"Providing a really special occasion for them to do this felt like the perfect way to give back this Christmas. I believe community pubs like The Bird I’Th Hand have an important part to play in bringing people together. I’ve been warmly welcomed since I took over the pub six months ago, it’s like a family and I’ve seen many people make new friends here.”

Marie Greenhalgh of Wythsenshawe Good Neighbours said: “Our aim is to provide companionship for those in later life and for many our lunch club provides the only hot meal they eat all week.

"We have a social eating approach to our work helping older people navigate their community through natural social spaces like pubs, cafes, social clubs etc. It is where someone eats and in whose company they eat that is just as important as the food they eat in later life. It was lovely to go somewhere different, have a gorgeous lunch and receive five star treatment.”

David Paterson, corporate affairs director for HEINEKEN said: “There really is no place like the Great British pub – it’s the place where relationships start, friendships are cemented and memories made.

"We believe pubs are at the heart of communities and we’re delighted to be working with so many pub landlords who want to make a positive difference this Christmas. We hope our Brewing Good Cheer campaign raises awareness of the issue of social isolation and inspires more people and publicans like James to get involved and brew some good cheer this Christmas!”