Pensioners take tea at Downing Street

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Pensioners enjoyed lunch at 10 Downing Street with the stars from Strictly Come Dancing and the Prime Minister to celebrate a campaign to tackle loneliness.

The three pensioners – Jeanne and Barry Fletcher and Micky Johnson – from Easingwold were among a group of 20 who travelled down from Yorkshire.

They had been invited by the Prime Minister David Cameron to highlight the issue of loneliness and great examples of community work to combat it.

Mr and Mrs Fletcher and Mrs Johnson are regulars at the Friendship lunches started earlier this year at the Durham Ox pub near Easingwold.

They have been so popular that lunches have also been held at other pubs in the Provenance Inns group, including the Black Bull at Moulton, near Richmond, and the Carpenters Arms, near Thirsk.

The Prime Minister said: “Christmas is a time that should be filled with joy and celebration – not loneliness and isolation. And yet there are too many people, often older people, who will spend this festive season alone.

“Whether it’s popping round for a chat, making a cup of tea, donating a gift, or just keeping in touch, you can’t underestimate what a big difference small, caring acts and companionship can make to someone who is on their own.”

The party lunch was served up in the state dining room at No 10. The stars of Strictly Come Dancing arrived, with Aljaz Skorjanec demonstrating a fox-trot and Kevin Clifton dancing with guests.