During the pandemic Asda community champion Samantha Will has formed a close bond with residents of Ulverston Sheltered Housing Complex next to our Dundee Kirkton store where she works – even setting up a walking group to give them some gentle exercise and more social contact – so she was determined to pull out all the stops to give them a magical Christmas treat.
Each week they go for a stroll, popping in at the nearby Attic Lounge community centre and Caird View Nursery, where they love to visit the children, so after securing a grant from our charity, the Asda Foundation, Samantha invited families from the centre to join the residents on a visit to Glamis Castle, where they were heralded in by a piper before enjoying a tour and a festive lunch.
Because of the pandemic, many of the residents and families who use the community centre have not left the local area and so Samantha wanted to give them all a day out to remember.
She said: "The coach trip to the castle was something different for them all, as they have not done anything fun for the past couple of years because of lockdowns.
"It was lovely as we were all sat around tables drinking tea, eating cake, soup and sandwiches. We brought along Christmas hats and antlers for people to put on. It was brilliant, it really was. It snowed too – we ordered that specially!
"It was quite a mixed age group which was lovely. The young ones loved seeing the suits of armour ... and the gift shop! It was a good educational day out for some of them and it was nice to see them have fun.
"One of the older residents, Jim, who lost his wife just before the pandemic, comes on our regular walks and he loved going to the castle. He struggles to walk but he went on that tour up and down 48 steps in the castle and he totally loved it. He is such a happy chap, so he is, and lovely to chat to."
Bruce White, manager of the Attic Lounge, went on the trip, and says it was fantastic day out.
He said: "We'd like to really thank Sam and Asda for arranging the trip. We've been in lockdown for so long, and families have not been able to go out much so getting out for the day was great. They really appreciated it. It was a really great event to do and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
"We've been working in partnership with Sam and Asda for a while now as we feel we have to rebuild our community. There has been a lot of people struggling and they've really missed being part of the community and seeing people. Sam is the perfect person for her role – she is just so passionate and really cares about people and the community and everyone can see that."
Jemma Lillico, who's warden at the housing complex, says the residents had a great time.
She said: "We'd like to say thank you to Sam and Asda for arranging the trip. It was a nice opportunity for them to get out for the day, especially with what has been going with the past year or so.
"Asda is just at the back of our complex, so Sam's done things like a walking group and some of the residents go on that and before lockdown they had the kids from the nursery come in and spend time with them. The children made some lovely cards and pictures for the residents to say enjoy your trip which was nice."