West Hill widow’s kind-hearted gesture inspires others

Betty Williams with Ottery Mayor Glynn Dobson. Betty gave a Christmas lunch at the Lamb and Flag to

Betty Williams with Ottery Mayor Glynn Dobson. Betty gave a Christmas lunch at the Lamb and Flag to people who would otherwise be alone at Christmas time. Ref sho 6502-52-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

Betty joined 50 others from Ottery Parish for a festive lunch as news hit about more generous acts

A widow’s kind-hearted gesture to provide a meal for people in Ottery facing Christmas alone has now inspired others to follow suit.

West Hill resident Betty Williams, 87, made headlines around the globe last year by offering to pay for up to 40 lonely people to come together for a traditional meal.

Her generous act touched people’s hearts and donations flooded in to pay for similar events, including another community Christmas feast, which again took place at the Lamb and Flag, in Batts Lane, on Wednesday, December 23.

As more than 50 people from the parish sat down to enjoy a traditional three-course dinner, news broke in the national press of a similar meal taking place in Cornwall paid for by a kind-hearted pensioner who was inspired by Betty.

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Peter Campbell, a retired solicitor, from Camborne paid for 40 people to join him for Christmas lunch after reading about Betty’s idea last year.

Retired teacher and published poet Betty said it was lovely her idea had triggered a chain reaction, prompting others to do the same for members of their community.

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Sitting down to dinner, she said: “[The meal] is lovely this year. I am happy to have a full house once again and I hope that everybody is having a lovely time. It is very nice we have started something globally.”

Ottery Town Council helped the widow put her plan into action last year and has organised this year’s event, along with pub landlords Ron and Angi Miles and Phyllis Baxter from the tourist information centre.

Mayor Glyn Dobson said: “It’s brilliant that we can do it again, with the money that was raised last year from donations sent from all over the world. We will hopefully have enough to do it again.

“We have got as many people here as last year and it’s great that because of what Betty’s started here in Ottery, it’s happening in other places as well.”

Business owner and singer Juliet Squire led a Christmas sing-along after the meal, with Bruce Odlin on keyboard.

Juliet said: “It’s amazing to be part of something like this and I was delighted to be asked.”

Ron said: “What a fantastic community spirit. It’s absolutely stunning. It is heart warming to see so many local people coming together - absolutely brilliant.”

His wife Angi spent two days getting everything prepared for the feast – all of which was made in-house.

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