Proprietors offer to give free meals to elderly in Portaferry

Proprietors offer to give free meals to elderly in Portaferry

18 March 2020

THE owners of the Portaferry Hotel say they have been overwhelmed by offers of help and well-wishes since they offered to give free meals to the elderly during the coronavirus threat.

Mary and Cahal Arthurs have been universally praised for their act of kindness since they offered it last Saturday.

The couple delivered up to seven meals on Sunday to local elderly people who may not be able to shop for themselves or who fear being exposed to the virus if they leave their homes. 

Mrs Arthurs told the Recorder: “We have been overwhelmed by well-wishers and suppliers offering their help and support to us. The amount of goodwill we have received has been amazing and we have a list of people who are ready to help us when things get busy.

“However, there’s not many elderly people self-isolating in our area at the moment so there hasn’t been much uptake so we expect it won’t start getting busier until time goes on.”

However, she revealed that the hotel — which remains open — has been hit financially due to cancellations from guests who are choosing to stay at home.

The couple, who took over the popular hotel in 2016, also run two bars in the town — Dumigan’s,  and The Slip Inn — and the Ferry Grill takeaway.

Mrs Arthurs said: “We went from a full house on Saturday night to just one guest. I also took a cancellation this month for a group booking in three weeks time that will cost the business a potential £15,000.

“But we are not on our own. Every business, and particularly the hospitality businesses, will all be affected by the coronavirus over the weeks ahead.”

Mrs Arthur posted her offer to help elderly neighbours on the hotel’s Facebook page on Saturday.

She reached out and said that if any elderly neighbours need a meal to ring them before 1pm that day.

The post promised: “We will deliver dinner to you that evening — there is no charge for food or delivery.

These are unprecedented times and we are a close knit community; let’s stick together and get through this together.”

One supporter of the hotel described the gesture as “community spirit at its finest” while another one called for “100% support for the hotel” after the coronavirus has passed.

Mrs Arthurs said that even though her business was suffering at the moment, the hotel remained fully staffed at the moment.

“We want to help our community in any way we can,” added Mrs Arthurs.

“What we are offering isn’t going to cost us a lot of money. What’s a few plates of dinner when the stuff is there. 

“We never anticipated the return of goodwill and good wishes. To be honest, it’s been quite an emotional journey over the last few days.

“If we can lead the way and do our bit for our area, many other hotels and businesses may follow suit. We are all on this together.”