Killie spreads Christmas cheer to local older people with community festive lunch

From favourite kits to legendary ex-players, Killie recollections were always going to be the main point of conversation in between mouthfuls of turkey and gravy as the Kilmarnock Community Sports Trust welcomed a long-awaited return of Rugby Park’s Football Memories Christmas lunch.

Rounding off a year which has saw the club host 18 Football Memories sessions, there was a festive feast in the 1869 Suite as more than 65 individuals tucked into their Christmas lunch, alongside dedicated group leaders Ross Mathie and John Livingston on Monday 5th December.

Those in attendance included many of the regulars of Rugby Park’s monthly sessions, which supports individuals living with varying stages of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The Kilmarnock Community Trust team also worked with local partners to identify elderly people at risk of social isolation during the festive period, ensuring that they were also given a warm welcome on the day.

The occasion was topped off when first-team players Alan Power and Brad Lyons dropped in to join the end of year celebrations, sparking smiles, cheers and even the odd cracker-pull.

Head of Charity, Jordan Allison said: “The cost of living crisis means more and more people in our community will face food and fuel poverty this winter. It is also, sadly, a time where elderly and vulnerable people are at higher risk of isolation and loneliness.

“Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the lunch, and we were blown away by the numbers that attended. Seeing people chat and make friends across the tables meant a lot, and it’s great to be part of a wider network of clubs across Scotland doing similar.”

Football Memories ambassador and Club legend, Ross Mathie, added: “This is the first time since 2019 that we have been able to do this. The noise from the conversations round the tables was astonishing. It’s made the wait all worthwhile.”

Nicky Reid, SPFL Trust CEO commented: “Festive Friends is one of our biggest events at the SPFL Trust and for our colleagues at clubs and community trusts.

“It’s all about coming together to have a real impact in the lives of elderly and isolated people over the festive period – reaching more people than ever this year. 

“It’s the Christmas spirit in action as we see the power of football in spades – with clubs spreading cheer in their communities.

“Scottish football is trusted to support, and our recent research shows that almost 83% of people live within ten miles of a SPFL ground – because of this clubs and their associated community trusts are well positioned to effect this type of change in their communities.

“This year 43 SPFL clubs are involved making it our biggest programme yet, supported by a record-breaking fund of £133,000. We look forward to supporting more elderly people than ever before, after all kindness never mattered more.”