Talented ukulele teenager makes things right for South Shields woman, 96, who missed out on Christmas party

A talented teenager helped put a smile back on a widow’s face after a transport mix-up saw her miss out on a Christmas party.

James Bassett stepped in to surprise Jean MacDonald at a weekly coffee morning she attends at St Hilda’s Church, South Shields, on Saturday.

James Bassett plays a surprise performance for Jean MacDonald at St Hilda's Church, after she missed out on the Freemasons Christmas Party.

James Bassett plays a surprise performance for Jean MacDonald at St Hilda's Church, after she missed out on the Freemasons Christmas Party.

The 14-year-old, who attends Harton Technology College, heard how a transport mix-up left the 96-year-old sitting home alone instead of being at a Christmas party thrown by the Freemasons.

The event is an annual festive party held at the Masonic Lodge in South Shields for pensioners.

James, who is well-known in South Tyneside for his ukulele playing skills, surprised the widow as she sat chatting with a friend, by playing a number of George Formby classics - specially for her.

It was a surprise which overwhelmed the pensioner, who says it helped make up for missing the party.

He was so lovely and such a nice-natured boy, his parents must be so proud of him.

Jean MacDonald

Mrs MacDonald said: “I did not anything about it. It was such a nice surprise.

“I was so upset when no one picked me up. I was all ready for the party but no one came.

“But what the young boy did for me, I can’t thank him and those who made it possible enough - it was so special.”

She added: “He was so lovely and such a nice-natured boy, his parents must be so proud of him.

“I’ve told people about him but there’s already a lot of people who know him.”

James has been playing the ukulele since the age of six. Last year, his talents were featured on ITV1’s Little Big Shots.

Freemason Gordon Finch said: “We have held the party at the Masonic Lodge for three years now. We put on the dinner and the entertainment but leave the transport arrangements to the groups who attend.

“It appeared there was a mix up with Jean’s transport which meant she missed out on attending the party.

James Bassett plays a surprise performance for Jean MacDonald at St Hilda's Church, after she missed out on the Freemasons Christmas Party.

James Bassett plays a surprise performance for Jean MacDonald at St Hilda's Church, after she missed out on the Freemasons Christmas Party.

“As soon as I was made aware of what happened, I went round with a gift, that all those who attend the party receive.

“I contacted a friend to tell them what happened and with the help of Jean’s daughter Julie and Father Chris Fuller, we managed to organise a surprise appearance by James at the Church’s coffee morning.

“Jean thoroughly enjoyed herself and James was brilliant.

“I’m pleased things turned out and that she doesn’t feel as disappointed in missing out as she once did.”

James Bassett plays a surprise performance for Jean MacDonald at St Hilda's Church, after she missed out on the Freemasons Christmas Party.

James Bassett plays a surprise performance for Jean MacDonald at St Hilda's Church, after she missed out on the Freemasons Christmas Party.

James Bassett plays a surprise performance for Jean MacDonald at St Hilda's Church, after she missed out on the Freemasons Christmas Party.

James Bassett plays a surprise performance for Jean MacDonald at St Hilda's Church, after she missed out on the Freemasons Christmas Party.