"Don't be on your own on Christmas Day" is the message from The Salvation Army in Enniskillen. Lieutenants Su and Ed Dean are extending an invitation to come and join them for a lovely Christmas tea at 3pm today in the local Salvation Army Hall.
Su and Ed will undoubtedly have a full day today; it starts with a morning visit to the South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen to sing carols and to give out toys to the younger patients. Their plan is to visit the children's and maternity wards, where they plan to distribute new cuddly toys
This explains why they are having an afternoon Christmas tea party, a special gathering designed for anyone who is going to be on their own over Christmas.
The Deans, whose last appointment was in Essex for two years, will be on their own themselves over the festive season as their family are in England. They feel that people are on their own for different reasons and they thought it would be nice if they could all get together on Christmas Day.
Any food left over will be made into food parcels and distributed to those who need them in the community, said Su.
Su has organised similar ventures in previous Salvation Army churches and believes they worked well.
The entertainment on this special Christmas afternoon in the Enniskillen church will include festive food and treats, some carol singing and a Christmas film will be shown. Some members of the church are coming to help and Su and Ed feel lucky to have them.
The couple, who arrived in July, are settling in well in Fermanagh; they were here for the Salvation Army's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Enniskillen and helped organise the anniversary weekend. In fact, their feet have not hit the ground as it's so busy.
"We are very happy here," agree the Deans, who love Enniskillen and regard it as a lovely place.
The town was completely new to Su and Ed, who had never been to Northern Ireland prior to their recent appointments. "People here are very warm and friendly," agree the couple.
Su is making plans for initiatives she wants to set up in the community in the New Year, especially she says "for young mums with children".
She would like to start a mums and babies' group after Christmas and indicates that she would like to include some parenting classes as part of that. It would be 'one whole day a week', mentions Su, who said they would give the mums lunch and then they could stay for example a cookery lesson or tips on how they can feed their children economically, but nutritionally.
She points out that the Salvation Army receives donations of baby and toddlers' clothes and they would plan to to have them on sale on the day at very reasonable prices. "It would be a day they can look forward to," felt Su.
Their work with the Salvation Army in Fermanagh includes their Sunday morning and evening services in the Salvation Army Church in Enniskillen, where there is also a luncheon club on a Friday. Lunch is followed by a little meeting, described as a community club, when anyone can come along and enjoy various demonstrations. Recently there was a chocolate cake making demonstration, while Ed plays guitar and Su sings.
In addition, the Salvation Army has a charity shop in Enniskillen, run by Cyril and Lilly Robinson, whom Su and Ed say work very hard.
They pay tribute to their efforts and said it is more than a shop. Cyril and Lilly are "seen as friends," mentions Su, who believes you could not have "two better people to run the shop."