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Fancy owning one of these stunning coats?

By Helen Carson

Now you can, while helping raise money for AgeNI’s winter heat campaign.

The Christmas card-style charm of snow on the ground may look pretty from a cosy home, but for many elderly people the bitter chill of winter can mean fear and loneliness.

In Northern Ireland almost 62% of older people are living in fuel poverty which means many cannot afford to heat their home as temperatures plummet.

And the situation is worse for the 83% of older people who live alone.

This year as part of Age NI’s Spread the Warmth campaign there is something everyone can do to help those facing a bleak winter — donate a coat.

The charity is urging all of us to have a rummage in our wardrobes and dig out a much-loved but no longer wanted overcoat, raincoat, duffle coat or any other kind of coat — then please drop it into your nearest Age NI shop.

That coat, which is probably taking up valuable wardrobe space, will help boost stocks at Age NI shops during the Christmas rush as well as raise much-needed funds for the charity.

For £1 donated, 85p goes directly towards benefiting elderly people in the province.

And to help kickstart the very worthy appeal, some well-known faces from TV and fashion have happily ransacked their wardrobes and donated a coat for a forthcoming Age NI auction to help our elderly folk get through the winter.

Dungannon-born Joanne Salley (35) is a presenter and model now living in London. She says:

I love giving, so I’m happy to donate a Jolaby vintage-style coat in petrol blue with a nipped-in waist and brocade skirt.

This was bought from my favourite shop The Edge Emporium in my home town of Dungannon two years ago.

It was about £300, but worth every penny as I've worn it every autumn/winter.

It's been on many a red carpet and has turned a few heads.

I love this coat and would love to keep it, but I think it such a gorgeous coat and it will raise lots of money.

It looks very glamorous and is definitely not a run-of-the-mill coat, it is really stylish and unique.

The vintage style never really goes out of fashion. When I was working at Belfast Fashion Week that is what we were wearing.

Pamela Ballantine (52), a broadcaster and newspaper columnist from Belfast, is |donating a full-length black coat. She says:

I am giving away this coat because it is too long for me.

I am too short, and literally sweep the floor when I wear it, even with seriously high heels. It is a floor-length black wool coat, but not heavy wool.

The end is trimmed in leather and the back of the coat is pinned up like a train. It also has brass-coloured clips.

I do give to charity, in fact, I am chairperson of Action Medical and took part in The Royal Does Strictly — which we won — to raise money for Children In Need.

I think we should all give our old clothes to charity shops, even if it stuff that is only fit for the dump. Tell the charity shop this and they get money for the weight of the cloth.

Obviously you should sort your clothes out in advance and not give them anything dirty.

Lynda Bryans (49), lives in Belfast with husband Mike Nesbitt, Ulster Unionist Party leader and their two sons PJ, (17) and 14-year-old Christopher. She says:

I give all of our unwanted clothes to my old Sunday School teacher who distributes them to missionaries in developing countries around the world. Even things like old woolly jumpers and things that are out of fashion.

People in these countries have so little and they will use just about anything.

Everything from Mike’s old shirts to the clothes the boys have grown out of is donated. I never throw anything out that is made of material.

For the charity auction I want to donate an evening coat from Zara. It is a three-quarter length coat made of satin-like fabric and is quite full. It is quite glamorous and would be perfect for a night out. I have worn it a few times and have had it for about three years now.

Katrina Doran (38), (left) a fashion blogger, lives in Belfast with her husband Peter. She says:

The coat I'm donating is a gorgeous dusky pink corduroy blazer from Oasis.

It was actually given to me by my very good friend Maureen |Coleman — we're the same size so that's pretty handy and I'm always borrowing glam dresses from 'Coleman Boutique'.

But she knew I have a bit of a thing about corduroy blazers and had hardly worn it, so she gave it to me.

It's a great fit as it's really tailored, but you can still get a nice warm jumper underneath.

I wore it a lot last winter with jeans and a really long chunky purple scarf.

I'm delighted to be able to 'pay it forward' and pass on the coat to a new home.

I think the Age NI Spread The Warmth campaign is a brilliant way to reach out to older people in Northern Ireland as there are so many who are worried about staying warm and being isolated and lonely during the winter months.

Wendy Austin (60), lives in Dromore with her husband Frank Hewitt. She has three grown-up children Niall (28), Kerry (26) and Clare (23). She says:

I wouldn’t dream of throwing clothes in the bin, I don’t believe in it. I had a wardrobe clear-out last year which is why I wear all the coats I have.

I am donating a black double-breasted wool coat from Hobbs that my husband bought me for Christmas a few years ago. I’m still really fond of it actually! This is nice coat and somebody will get good wear out of it. I do clear out my clothes quite regularly and give them to any charity shops that I can get parked outside to be honest. It all goes to a good cause. I’m also giving a silver puffy jacket from Marks & Spencer as it is really warm for winter.”

Olympic gold medallist Dame Mary Peters (73), is donating two coats. She says:

I realise that very many older people are living in fuel poverty in Northern Ireland and that this is even worse for those who live alone. I have been very fortunate throughout my career and, now in my latter years, thought I could help others by donating two of my much loved but, now, unwanted, coats.

I wore these coats when I visited Windsor Castle and when I met some famous sports stars, so if they could talk ...

I hope these coats will be as comforting to you they have been to me.

Barbara McNarry (59), is the |sister of George Best (below) and lives in Comber with her husband Norman. She says:

I wanted to choose one of George’s coats that was warm as this fits in with Age NI’s Spread the Warmth campaign.

The coat is quite hard to describe — it’s like a hoody inside a lovely heavy cotton jacket. I thought it was different and a bit quirky. It was quite hard to choose something from George’s clothes as there are so many things that I’m still quite attached to. It is hard to be specific, but I am fairly certain that this coat was worn by George in the year or two prior to his death.

I am delighted to donate this coat to raise both awareness and funds for such a worthy charity.

Cathy Martin (39), director at Belfast-based CMPR, lives in North Down with her businessman husband Julian Jordan their 10-month-old daughter Valentina and three stepchildren Sasha (17), Johnny, (13) and Elisa, (12). She says:

I have an eBay shop so any clothes I don’t use tend to get offloaded there.

Sometimes I get really good prices for things, other times it’s a fiver for something I paid £50 for - but I need the space.

I’d rather have a clear wardrobe and a clear mind. Clearing out for me is ongoing especially since the arrival of our baby daughter, I have been forced to make space.

I am better than I was, and my husband Julian goes nuts at me, as you can imagine in my business I do buy a lot of things. It is very easy to keep picking things up and I don’t have the room anymore.

If I had a Carrie Bradshaw-type wardrobe I would keep more.

I want to give away a black Principles winter coat which has a ruffle detail on the sleeve.

It is great for wearing to work or slipping on for an evening out because the ruffle detail just adds that little bit extra.

How you can support Age NI

  • Age NI’s Spread the Warmth campaign helped over 100,000 older people last year
  • Support Age NI while doing your Christmas Shopping online. The following all donate a percentage to the charity: Amazon, one per cent, Boots, up to 5.5%, Currys, up to 1.5%, Debenhams, up to 2.5%, House of Fraser and John Lewis, up to 4% and Very, up to 5.5%
  • Find information on how to prepare your home for winter and fuel payments at as well as your nearest Age NI shop for donating a coat and links to online sites which donate a percentage to the charity
  • Donate A Coat is part of Age NI and the Belfast Telegraph's Feel the Benefit campaign to help spread the warmth this winter and encourage pensioners to take up the benefits they are entitled to. See also pages 4&5

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