IRISH pensioner James Gray has been “completely overwhelmed” by the huge response to his call for somebody to spend Christmas with after spending the past nine years alone.
The 85-year-old turned to The Irish Post in desperation earlier this month, placing an advert in the hope of finding someone to spend December 25 with.
And since we reported his story the retired butler, who is living in south London, has been inundated with offers from prospective companions.
He is now looking forward to receiving his first Christmas cards in years after a Christmas card appeal (see below) from The Irish Post.
“It is so touching to me, after all these years alone, to see this response from people,” he said. “I’m so appreciative of the offers. I should have done this years ago.”
Mr Gray’s story has taken Ireland and Britain by storm since The Irish Post reported it.
COMMENT: Story that has inspired thousands - but how many more elderly people are forgotten at Christmas?
Major broadcasters, including BBC Five Live, as well as national newspapers on each side of the Irish Sea have joined the campaign to find the 85-year-old a festive friend.
That has led to messages of support from thousands of readers and listeners touched by his story.
A number of people have also offered to help Mr Gray break his lonely streak by having Christmas dinner with him this year.
Volunteers have come from as far away as Scotland’s Isle of Skye and New York in the US.
Mr Gray, who is originally from Midleton, Co Cork, said he is looking forward to receiving his first Christmas cards in years from some of those who have been in touch with The Irish Post.
“I did not get a single card for my birthday in August, but I just had to put up with it,” he said.
If Mr Gray’s story has touched you and you would like to send him a Christmas card, The Irish Post will is now collecting cards to pass on to him. Please send it to: ‘Mr James Gray’ c/o The Irish Post, Suite A, 1 Lindsey Street, Smithfield, London EC1A 9HP, UK.
Some of your hundreds of Tweets. Tweet us your message for James and we'll print them out for him.
— Jake Morrison (@EiJake) December 13, 2013
— jimmy grimble (@bitdoc) December 13, 2013
@theirishpost My heart is really hurting after reading this story.
— Marcella Wilkinson (@maisiee100) December 12, 2013
— John Prescott (@johnprescott) December 13, 2013
@theirishpost Hope he finds somewhere. Expect he'll get many offers through the Ol Irish Community. Merry Xmas Mate.
— Hendon RFC (@HendonRFC) December 13, 2013
That story is so sad. Poor man :( @theirishpost
— Andrea Willoughby (@lilchinacup) December 12, 2013
— Christine Quigley (Ċristín Ní Ċoigliġ) (@C_Quigley) December 12, 2013
@Niall_IrishPost you need to let me know if there is any update on James Gray's Christmas Day plans! Fair play, prevalent issue.
— Kate Ní Chonfhaola (@knconneely) December 13, 2013