A NEWSAGENT who hatched a plan to provide Christmas dinner to families in need was shocked at the size of his bill - when he found shop staff had clubbed together to cover the cost.

Gordon Bird, who’s spent the best part of his 85 years running Mellor’s News on Barnsley Road, Cudworth, arrived at Marks and Spencer on Queen Street to pay for the 25 families’ meals he had ordered last week.

But unbeknown to him, employees had collected enough to account for turkeys, veg, and trimmings.

Gordon worked with Father David Nicholson, of St John’s Church, Cudworth, to identify families who would benefit the most.

He said he and family members had put together a similar scheme 36 years ago, at the height of the miners’ strike - and thought this would be a fitting gesture in a comparably tough year.

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“I was shocked when I got there and the young lady said that I wasn’t going to have a great deal to pay,” said Gordon, of Dodworth Road.

“It was a total surprise. I didn’t want to tell anyone what we were doing before I picked it all up, but it would be a lovely way to say thank you to everyone through the Chronicle.

“We used to collect for the miners’ families if anyone got hurt while down the pit.

“You’ve got to think about the kids, especially at this time of year.

“There are at least 100 meals there, which is brilliant.”

Cudworth Dental Surgery also gave selection boxes for the packages, while baker Jane Oldfield, of Dodworth Road, made chocolate logs and mince pies.

Jean Oldfield from Marks and Spencer’s charity team said: “Gordon and his family shop with us weekly, he came in to see me in November to say he wanted to buy Christmas dinner for 25 disadvantaged families in the Barnsley area who had been identified by his local vicar.

“Gordon asked if we would be able to give him a discount on some of the items - he’s such a lovely, selfless man so we said as charity team we would do our best to help towards the cost.

“Whilst my colleague Sharon and myself have coordinated it, this has been a full store effort with the team buying second-hand books, bidding on raffles and all sorts - all our colleagues have been so generous and supportive as always, and we are delighted to have been able to pay in full for 25 Christmas dinners.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure to support Gordon who’s made sure those families don’t go without this Christmas.

“We have also given £50 to another local charity who have purchased Turkey dinners for elderly people spending Christmas by themselves. We’re all in this together.”