Date: 16 Dec 2020
Belfast Lord Mayor Alderman Frank McCoubrey visited Clifton House today as it hosted the Benn Dinner, a Christmas tradition which started 138 years ago.
While he was unable to sit down for dinner with residents as normal due to current restrictions, he was still able to meet and greet residents at a distance and through the window.
The Christmas tradition at Clifton House - the original poor house and infirmary - started in 1882 when George Benn, a generous philanthropist, historian and benefactor of Belfast Charitable Society, died and left £1,000 in his will to enable the residents to have a dinner in his memory. Since then the Belfast Charitable Society have continued to support a Christmas lunch for the residents of Clifton House in his name.
This year, given current restrictions, the charity supported Christmas activities in the home instead, with a donation to cover the cost of a series of activities. Many residents have been unable to meet up with families or leave the home in months due to the pandemic, and Belfast Charitable Society hoped to spread some Christmas cheer in a safe but enjoyable way.
Belfast Junior Chamber of Trade also supported the event with the delivery of Christmas gifts for residents. Delivered to the home 72 hours prior to the Benn Dinner, the gifts were stored safely to ensure that they can be delivered to residents on the day.
Paula Reynolds, CEO of Belfast Charitable Society, said: “This has been an extremely difficult year for a lot of people, but particularly the elderly in care homes. We couldn’t let this Christmas pass without keeping the tradition of the Benn Dinner alive, albeit in a slightly different format.
“This year, more than ever, the residents of Clifton House have been looking forward to this annual event, and we didn’t want to let them down. We’re delighted that the Lord Mayor joined us on the day too, to help boost spirits and morale”.