A campaigner looking to combat loneliness has said her event is “more needed now than ever” ahead of her meeting with the Prime Minister.
Mary Beggs-Reid from Harrogate, north Yorkshire, has organised a bell-ringing on Christmas Eve to spread festive cheer, which she claims has reached “millions”.
Thousands across the UK have been asked to ring out bells for two minutes at 6pm on December 24 as part of the campaign, which started on October 19.
“We’ve got nearly half a million on the Facebook group, but so many people say they’ve delivered the idea to hundreds of their neighbours that aren’t on social media, so I think we’re now probably in our millions doing it all across the UK,” Mrs Beggs-Reid, aged 41, told the PA news agency.
“Especially with the recent news, this is more needed now than ever… It was just a simple bell-ring to start with but it’s evolved into so much more, so that for two minutes on Christmas Eve nobody feels alone.”
Mrs Beggs-Reid, who works as an estate manager, was later contacted by No 10 after Boris Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds said they would like to ring bells on Christmas Eve themselves.
The festive campaigner was due to travel from Harrogate to London and meet Mr Johnson and Ms Symonds on Monday.
However, due to the tough new restrictions introduced in the capital on Saturday at midnight, they can no longer meet in person, instead taking part in a call scheduled on Tuesday.
“It’s unbelievable to be speaking to him.
“We didn’t even think we’d get our street, our town, maybe Harrogate at best, so to get the Prime Minister as well doing it is just wonderful,” she told PA.
“It was such an unexpected email to get, I had to keep checking that it wasn’t spam!”
Mrs Beggs-Reid has now teamed up with the Christmas Together campaign, which is encouraging people to phone friends or ring neighbour’s doorbells to help combat loneliness.
“We were having my husband’s mother, but due to the change in everything we can’t now, it’s just going to be a really quiet Christmas,” she told PA.
“Unfortunately I can’t see my mum, but she lives in Harrogate, my mum and dad… we can’t be physically together but for those two minutes, we can all be ringing together, and I know she’s ringing from the other side of Harrogate.
“It was a simple idea to show that even at a time when we can’t all be with each other we can still do something that sends a message of hope and togetherness.
“I think it’s fantastic that the Prime Minister is getting behind an everyday mum like me and trying to help communities as much as we can.”