Bury: Veteran to rescue New Year party

A WAR veteran is offering to pay for a New Year party with his own money after cash has dried up for the annual event.

Arthur Smith, 83, chairman of the Anselm Avenue Community Centre 60-plus Club in Bury St Edmunds, fears he may have to pay for the group’s annual Christmas celebration after funding has been cut.

Mr Smith, of Bury, said: “I think people would be heartbroken if they didn’t have their Christmas do.

“Everyone always enjoys it. Its a great day.”

Around 80 residents from the Mildenhall Road estate in Bury enjoy a full turkey dinner, crackers and festive spirit at the group’s party every year.

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But this year’s celebration could be under threat as no money can be found to help fund the festivities, which could be the only Christmas lunch some residents enjoy.

“It’s like a Christmas present for some of them,” Mr Smith said. “Some of the elderly ladies on the estate don’t get out socially.

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“If they couldn’t get to the party, they would just sit there by themselves.”

Although Havebury Housing Partnership donated a grant towards the celebration last year, Mr Smith said the association would not be donating cash this Christmas.

As the gathering on Friday, January 7 approaches, Mr Smith, who served with the Grenadier Guards in World War Two, is considering funding the party himself.

“We are there to look after people,” he said. “A lot of our members live on their own and don’t get to see anybody.

“If we don’t get the money, I’ll pay for it myself.

“We will have the party. People want to go.”

Mr Smith has already bought crackers and chocolates for the event himself and is appealing for any funding or donations to help stage the event.

Diners will pay �6 a head for the event, which is also being subsidised with �400 from club funds, but that still leaves a shortfall of �640 to stage the day.

A spokeswoman for Havebury Housing Partnership said the organisation did not give repeat funding to groups but had given the 60 plus association lots of help throughout the year.

To donate, please contact Jo Thewlis at the EADT on 01284 702620.

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