Topsham charity steps into festive spirit

ELDERLY residents are being given the chance to have a helping hand when doing their Christmas shopping thanks to a Topsham charity.

The Estuary League of Friends is operating regular mini-bus trips each week to local Sainsbury and Tesco superstores and a one-off service to Exeter city centre later this month.

The journeys are primarily for older residents who find it difficult to get around. They can get picked up at their front door and dropped off at the shop entrance.

There is some assistance with shopping if people are unable to carry items and then the minibus drops them back to their homes again.

Rachel Gilpin, chief executive of the Estuary League of Friends, said: “Shopping can be a nightmare at the best of times.

“But, with crowds building up before Christmas, we all know how difficult it can be on buses, trains and in the shops themselves.

“Our service helps people find a way through – literally.”

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Most planned journeys to supermarkets and Exeter between now and Christmas cost �4.50 return.

The charity also operates transport services for residents to doctors’ and hospital appointments, and runs one-off trips to shops and events across East Devon.

Anyone interested in coming along should contact Rachel or her team on 01392 879009 or by email on

The charity is still appealing for help in preparing for its popular Christmas Day lunch held at Topsham Rugby Club.

Volunteers can help in three ways: By giving items for the lunch or stocking gifts – anything from Christmas puds to soft drinks, from chocolates to wine, or crackers to turkeys.

People could also help set up tables for up to 80 people on the afternoon of Christmas Eve or by helping on December 25 itself.

Ms Gilpin said: “The Estuary Christmas lunch is now a traditional part of the festive calendar for the scores of people who attend.

“For many it may be their only hot meal and chance to meet with people on Christmas Day. But, we need help to make it happen.

“It’s a big event to organise, but it’s one of the highlights of the year for those who come along. There’s a real reward in seeing the delight on the faces of our guests on the day.”

Those older residents who want to enjoy the company of others on Christmas Day can attend the lunch – with a close relative if they wish – by contacting Rachel.

The donation is �14 for each person, including transport to and from the lunch if they require it.