Emotional footage shows a lonely pensioner singing Silent Night after a choir showed up at his door

Emotional footage shows a pensioner singing Silent Night after a choir surprised him with his favourite carol.

Terrance, 78, from Oldham in Greater Manchester, touched hearts when he told BBC Breakfast yesterday he has spent the past 21 Christmases alone.

READ MORE: Millions of older people face Christmas Day alone

Describing December 25 as “not a very good day”, the pensioner would get up, make a sandwich and watch TV.

Determined to make this year a little brighter, the team surprised him this morning with a Christmas tree.

In a clip that has been liked more than 23,000 times on Twitter, Terrance is then seen singing the festive classic with a local choir, who turned up unexpectedly at his door.

Terrance sang Silent Night, his favourite carol, with Oldham College's choir. [Photo: Caters]

Speaking of his isolation, Terrance said: “Unless you’ve been there you don’t know what it’s like.

“I didn’t know what it was like to have depression until I got it.”

Terrance explained he always spent Christmas Day with his late mother, who he would cook for.

During his conversation with BBC Breakfast, students from Oldham College showed up with a Christmas tree after Terrance said on air he did not have one.

The emotional pensioner can be seen wiping away tears as he thanks the students for their gift.

In another surprise, 20 members of the college’s choir turned up to sing with him, bearing gifts.

This year, Terrance plans to celebrate the holidays with a 90-year-old dementia sufferer called Nancy, who he met through Age UK.

READ MORE: How to spot someone is lonely and what to do to help

Statistics from the charity suggest Christmas is the loneliest time of the year for more than 1.5 million older people.

The bereaved are hit hardest, with over 750,000 widowed people feeling isolated during the festive season.

While Christmas is a cause of celebration for many, more than three million older people are dreading the big day, with nearly a quarter (23%) saying it brings back painful memories of loved ones they have lost.

“Christmas can amplify loneliness,” Dr Kalpa Kharicha, head of innovation policy and research at the Campaign to End Loneliness, said.

“If you’re on the back of a bereavement you’ll be very much aware of the empty chairs. Your partner may have been the one who wrote the cards,” she previously told Yahoo UK.

After spending 21 Christmases alone, Terrance finally had company. [Photo: Caters]

How to help combat loneliness

While December may leave many feeling isolated, it could also be the perfect time to widen your social circle.

“Christmas gives us an opportunity to talk about loneliness,” Dr Kharicha said.

“Lots of things are going on in communities at Christmas time. 

“If you can cross that threshold at Christmas, you may be more likely to take part in community events in January.”

When it comes to helping lonely people, small gestures can make a big difference.

“Drop someone a card or knock on their door on your street,” Dr Kharicha said. “People tend to be more open to that at Christmas”.

READ MORE: ‘Stiff upper lip’ mentality may drive loneliness in elderly men

Throughout the year, small acts of kindness go a long way.

“Make small talk, offer a cup of tea to someone on your street, make conversation while waiting for the bus,” Dr Kharicha said.

“It shows openness. Small gestures, listening and talking, can be very meaningful.”

The NHS recommends offering to lend a hand, whether it be picking up prescriptions or changing a light bulb.

With many struggling to cook for themselves, you could also invite them over for dinner or freeze leftovers for them to reheat, it adds.

Encouraging people to take part in activities in their local area can also help, whether it be volunteering, joining a book club or singing in a choir.

“Anything that strengthens connection in communities,” Dr Kharicha said.

If you are struggling, the Samaritans are available 24/7 on 116 123.