By CHRIS BROOKE
After ten-year-old Gracie McNulty’s father died in an accident, she wasn’t sure how to cope with her first Christmas without him.
So she decided to abandon the usual family festivities – and make her father’s last Christmas wish come true instead.
With the help of her mother and three siblings, Gracie served turkey with all the trimmings to 50 homeless people yesterday.
Her father Craig, 38, was a regular charity volunteer who had served breakfast to the homeless on Boxing Day in the past, and he had promised to open the family’s cafe on Christmas Day this year.
But Mr McNulty, a roofer, suffered serious head injuries when he fell while working. He was taken to hospital by air ambulance but died soon after the accident in August.
Gracie’s mother Sharon McNulty, 46, who runs the Grilled and Filtered cafe in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, said: ‘After he died Gracie said to me “I don’t want to have Christmas at home this year, I want to do what daddy wanted and open the cafe on Christmas Day.
‘It wouldn’t feel right to celebrate so we’re serving Christmas dinner to people who don’t have a home to go to.’ She added: ‘We’re all thinking of Craig. It’s all in his honour and he would be so happy with what we are doing.
‘It’s been absolutely fantastic, just to see their faces when they walked in. We’ve bought everybody thermal gloves, thermal scarves, and thermal socks and have also made sandwiches for them to take away.’
The family gave tickets for the Christmas dinner to local charities who help the homeless, and their community donated money to fund the event.
Gracie was joined by her mother and three siblings – Kirstie, 19, Thomas, 21, and James, 26 – to serve up turkey dinners for three hours between 11.30am and 2.30pm.
Gracie said: ‘It’s been the best Christmas ever. I was just at school feeling sad about my dad so decided I wanted to do something to make him proud and this felt like the perfect thing. People have been coming in calling me “super Grace.” I haven’t asked my mum yet but I want to do this every year.’
Miss McNulty and her partner were together for 15 years before his death. They never married, but he changed his surname so that the family shared a name.
Miss McNulty, whose family have also raised £1,000 for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, said: ‘Craig was the most generous, giving person you could ever meet.
'He was always doing something for somebody and worked for the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, helping troubled youngsters achieve a trade.
‘He spent all his time making other people happy and hopefully we’ll be able to carry that on.’