Asda customers Ken and Alice McGinley couldn't celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary together last year because of lockdown restrictions – so this Christmas our Linwood store's community champion Claire Mackie decided to put on a magical treat for them and the residents and staff at the care home where 77-year-old Alice now lives.
Claire arranged for a vintage car to pick up 83-year-old Ken at his home and take him to Cochrane Castle Care Home where Alice was waiting. They were then whisked off to a local park where they enjoyed a glass of champagne each and had photographs taken before returning to the care home for an afternoon of Christmas treats, pampering and entertainment.
Former Royal Engineer Ken, who lives in Johnstone, said: "It was fantastic. I'd like to thank Asda and Claire from the bottom of my heart for what they have done. They did a marvellous job for us – it's one of the best celebrations we've ever had and was very moving.
"When everyone was taking photos of Alice and I with the 60 sign above us that was the icing on the cake.
"The Asda staff and the care home staff were absolutely brilliant. Everything was so well organised.
"The car had white ribbons on the front and there was a bottle of champagne in the back and it was decked out with flowers too. It was really beautiful. When we drove to the care home all the staff were waiting with their cameras.
"Everyone thought it was a great day. All the staff and the other residents enjoyed it too. Over the past two year there has been very, very little entertainment in there because of the pandemic so this was brilliant."
In April last year, on Ken and Alice's 60th wedding anniversary, Claire arranged for a special cake to be made which she delivered herself to Ken at home. His daughter Louise, then took the cake to her mum at the care home, along with the candles and a card from all the staff at the store.
Claire said: "It was so different this time around! Ken and Alice and everyone at the home had a great time. They loved it all and had an absolutely fantastic day.
"Ken are Alice are just so lovely. It was the first time that I'd seen them both since last year and it was so amazing. The stories Ken can tell from his life are just phenomenal."
Claire said she was delighted to see not only that Ken and Alice had a lovely day, but that it meant so much to other people at the care home too.
She said: "All the carers and everyone at the home deserved the special day too for all that they've gone through. They've been everyone's family and friends through all this, as the residents have not been able to see anyone. It's been such a tough time for them all."
Lainey Begley, the care home's events co-ordinator, said: "I really want to thank Asda so much as it was such a magical day. It was absolutely wonderful. Everyone had such a great time and they were all talking about it afterwards. The place was bustling!
"Ken and Alice loved it, all the staff were over the moon, and the other residents had a fantastic time too. They were all made to feel special and it cheered everyone up as it's been so hard for them during the pandemic. But we got through it and came out the other side.
"The Asda team brought in all the decorations and Christmas trees for all the four units here and also brought afternoon tea for the staff and other residents to enjoy as well. We had a wee dancer, Suzy, who danced to songs by Elvis Presley, as Ken and Alice both love Elvis.
"Alice is a lovely lady. I've known her for many, many years. When I was a wee girl she used to work in Woolworth's in the record department, so I used to go in on a Saturday with my pocket money.
"Everybody knows Ken as he's always got a wee story to tell. He's just up the road from the care home and he comes here as many days as possible. Before lockdown he would come in with a box of Cornettos and give them out to the other residents in Alice's lounge. He'd always have great wee chat with everyone."
Lainey said: "I was at the home when Alice's cake came for their anniversary last year but because of lockdown, Ken couldn't come in. It was a shame that they couldn't celebrate it together but this time around they really appreciated it. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves."
Ken witnessed five nuclear tests on Christmas Island in 1958. He's suffered serious health problems and has been campaigning for many years for more recognition and compensation for former servicemen.