Devon

Widow spends £1,000 on Devon community Christmas lunch

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Media captionBetty Williams paid for lonely neighbours to have Christmas lunch, as Duncan Kennedy reports

A widow who hates spending the festive season alone has treated about 40 people to a Christmas lunch in Devon.

Betty Williams, 86, paid £1,000 for the meals at the Lamb and Flag in Ottery St Mary on Tuesday.

The former teacher, who lost her husband 12 years ago, said she decided to make the gesture so others would not have to face Christmas on their own.

A town crier, brass band and carol singing were also featuring in the celebration, landlord Ron Miles said.

Mrs Williams said: "I wanted to give pleasure to some people and to get them out among friends. It's great."

Image caption Betty Williams said she wanted to get people "out among friends"

Town mayor Glyn Dobson helped gather the guests, working with local churches and members of the local Rotary Club after Mrs Williams approached him with the idea.

He said: "She's very generous to do this. I love to see local people getting together anyway.

"And to see them coming just before Christmas to enjoy themselves is great."

Mr Miles - who said he was first approached to provide the dinner "about 10 days ago" - also echoed that it was "a phenomenal day".

He said: "She's an incredible lady making a wonderful, wonderful gesture."

Donors from around the world - including Europe, California and Australia - had now funded similar meals for the future, he added.

He said: "We've had such an incredible response. We've collected just over £4,000 - enough funds for at least the next three years - and, with extra fundraising throughout the year, we expect it to be annual event."

Image caption Pub landlord Ron Miles said he had 10 days to make all arrangements

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