Leeds businessman '˜carries the baton' of helping the lonely in memory of his dad

IN HIS youth, Leeds businessman Mike Day would accompany his father on day trips, concerts and meals he'd organised for older people who were lonely or isolated - and this Christmas, he will 'carry on the baton' and build on his legacy by arranging a Christmas meal for elderly people in Leeds.

Leeds businessman Mike Day is fundraising for a Christmas lunch for older people at risk of isolation in the city. Picture: Graham Flack

Mike, head of sales at Cleckheaton-based Bibby Financial Services, was moved to act following the death of his dad Ron, last Christmas at the age of 83.

Ron’s trips would bring people together and help create friendships, and the group christened themselves ‘Ron’s Recycled Teenagers’.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Now, in Ron’s memory, a Christmas lunch has been booked for 120 people at the Marriott Hotel on December 3, and Mike has raised more than £3,500 to fund it.

Ron Day, who inspired his son Mike to arrange a Christmas lunch for older people in Leeds

“As long as I can remember, dad was always involved in some sort of fundraising or organising events, and these values were instilled in me. When he passed away, I wanted to take that baton on,” Mike, 48, said. “Although Dad was from Grimsby, and it would’ve been lovely to do it there, I knew the business community in Leeds would be so supportive - and they have.”

Businesses from across the city have made pledges, sponsored tables, and even volunteered as chauffeurs for the event.

More than enough money has already been raised to cover costs, and now Mike and his colleagues at Bibby are collecting items to make up hampers for those unable to make it on the day. Further funds will be raised for Age UK at Bibby’s annual dinner in September.

There are currently 37,000 lonely or isolated older people living in Leeds, and when he came up with his idea, Mike approached Age UK Leeds to help pull it off.

Mike and Ron Day in August 1983.

Fundraising director at Age UK Leeds, Lisa Burnett, said Mike’s offer of support was “a gift” to both the charity and the people it helps.

“Christmas can be a particularly lonely time for older people, when the focus of attention can be on children,” she said. “When Mike approached me offering to fundraise for an event, I nearly bit his hand off.

“We are currently supporting hundred of older people in Leeds, and we know there are many more out there that we haven’t been able to reach.

“An event like this can add a glimmer of hope to someone who may be feeling isolated. I’m sure Mike’s dad would have been immensely proud of what he is doing.”