Thousands of pensioners were given an early Christmas present when they were treated to free lunches with entertainment at a series of events.

The parties in Leyton, Chingford and Walthamstow saw elderly men and women take part in bingo and quizzes while listening to youngsters singing carols at the annual celebrations organised by Waltham Forest Council.

Shirley Johns reminisced about days gone by as she basked in the festive atmosphere at Walthamstow Assembly Hall.

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Ms Johns who has lived in the borough for 80 years said: “We used to come dancing to the Assembly Hall and this is where I met my husband, Lesley.

“It is lovely to be back here all these years later.”

Italian Francesco Cassettari who moved to Waltham Forest in 1974 said the celebrations got him in the mood for Christmas.

“It is very traditional and there is a real mix of all the cultures from the borough here,” he said.

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Rupert Singh, former chairman of Waltham Forest Asian Seniors Club, said: “After many years of hard work for the community, I am really happy for the council to offer something back.

“I love going to the Christmas meals each year.”

Cllr Angie Bean, Cabinet Member for Adults’ Services, said the festivities ensured those who would not attend any other Christmas celebrations will feel valued by their community.