Like many people across the UK, Callum Williamson found his Christmas plans cancelled at the last minute due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 32-year-old, who lives near York, had arranged a festive get-together with his parents and his sister at her home in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.
But the government’s announcement of stricter Covid rules around Christmas meant the family had to abandon their plan to see each other.
Callum faced the prospect of Christmas Day being “the same as any other day” – without his family or a festive dinner.
But his kind-hearted neighbour Rebecca texted him out of the blue and offered to make him a Christmas dinner so he isn’t left out.
“It meant a huge amount,” Callum said. “It’s quite emotional knowing someone can, without any real thought, just offer to do something like that.
“I wouldn’t have been having Christmas dinner full stop and it would’ve been the same as any other day if Rebecca hadn’t done that.
“There’s so many people in a worse position than me, but at the same time it was just that little thought that made my day.”
Callum isn’t the only person to have received a good deed from someone this Christmas.
Keith Farquharson, 46, ordered a Belgian chocolate gift shaped like a map for his wife as a Christmas present this year.
When he went to wrap it up, he found a note from the seller saying they had refunded him the cost and asked him to donate it to his charity fundraiser instead.
Keith, who has stage four bowel cancer, raised more than £6,000 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation during the first coronavirus lockdown.
He set up his road bike as a static bike at his home in Heaton, Newcastle, and cycled the 2,082 miles of the Tour de France 2018 in aid of the charity.
“I was amazed – it’s a really nice gesture,” says Keith.
“They’re a company that I’ve never had any contact with so how on earth did they find out what I was doing?”
Keith describes the kind-hearted note a little “bit of joy” in the middle of a dark time and says it sums up how 2020 has been a year of kindness for many.
His health condition meant he had to shield for three months during the first lockdown and his family had to rely on loved ones and neighbours to help them through.
“We’ve had my brother and my sister-in-law having to do the shopping for us and neighbours on the street looking after us,” Keith said. “It’s been a year when we’ve been reliant on other people and other people have helped. This sort of sums up the year.”
Many people have donated their time and money to help others this Christmas – including mum Jessica Rixon.
She brought together friends to prepare Christmas dinner to give to 14 families who have been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Jessica’s daughter Florence attends a nursery which is part of the London Early Years Foundation – a charitable social enterprise which operates 39 nurseries in some of London’s most disadvantaged areas.
“I just thought it would be really nice for a family to at least have a Christmas dinner, especially if they’ve had a really bad year,” Jessica said.
“It was something that they could look forward to. Whether they liked my cooking or not was another story!”
The 39-year-old raised more than £1,000 to pay for the ingredients to make dinner for 25 adults and 20 children – which were donated to families at another nursery in the network.
She used four turkeys, three ham joints, 16-and-a-half pounds of potatoes, four kilos of Brussels sprouts, and eight kilos of parsnips and carrots for the Christmas meals.
Jessica even had enough money left over to also buy the children Christmas presents which included colouring books, teddies, puzzles, Play-Doh and Lego.
She dropped the meals and presents off at the nursery on Friday and said the manager was “thrilled” with the donations.
“Had it not been for the Covid restrictions we possibly would have given each other a massive, big hug because there’s been so much organisation and chat back and forth over the last month,” said Jessica.
“She said that the parents were delighted. And I said, ‘That’s great. That’s nice to hear’.”