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Author: Age UK
Published on 15 December 2011 02:30 PM

Laughter is catching – it’s official! Share a joke and spread a little happiness this Christmas with Age UK

Joe Pasquale, Christopher Biggins and Roy Hudd star in Christmas eCrackers for Age UK

We all love that warm fuzzy feeling you get from sharing a laugh with others, and now it’s official: 91% of people agree laughter is infectious and 88% agree it usually makes them feel happy to hear someone else laugh’.[i] Age UK releases these figures today in a bid to spread laughter and happiness as Christmas approaches. As part of its Spread the Warmth campaign, the Charity has worked with some of Britain’s favourite comedians to make three hilarious Christmas eCrackers and is calling on everyone to pass them on to friends and family (www.ageuk.org.uk/ecards) and make a donation to help older people during what can be cold and lonely winter months.

Comedians Joe Pasquale, Christopher Biggins and Roy Hudd have shared their favourite jokes for Age UK’s eCrackers – we dare you not to crack a smile! From penguin gags to a tune from Mr Pasquale himself, these top laughter-makers are backing Age UK to raise money to prevent needless suffering for older people – more than 200 of whom die needlessly each day in winter because of the effects of cold weather, with thousands more left isolated and alone.

Winter can be a difficult time of year for people in later life, but kindness, friendship and human contact can make a real difference – with 95% of people over 65 agreeing that they always feel better when someone smiles at them. Age UK’s Christmas eCrackers will not only make people of all ages smile but all money raised will also help Age UK and its local partners run vital services that help to stop older people being cold and alone in winter. From providing advice on staying warm and well to giving an older person a hot meal at a lunch club, money raised will help to make a real difference this winter.

Jo Hemmings, Leading Behavioural Psychologist, said: 'Laughter releases chemicals called endorphins which can instantly lift the mood and that of those around you. We all know how infectious yawning can be and laughter can be equally catching. Sharing laughter with friends, family and others can create a connection between people, spreading warmth from one person to another through shared experience. With dark nights, cold weather and increased isolation and loneliness in the winter months it is more important than ever to spread a little happiness through the power of laughter, particularly with older people.'

Jo Pasquale, eCracker Comedian, added: 'Christmas is a time for friendship and laughter. Laughter is so cathartic and can have an amazing impact on your mood and the relationship you share with those around you. Laughter breeds laughter so the more we laugh, the more others will laugh with us. See if you can brighten up someone's day with laughter this winter by passing on my eCracker to show someone you are thinking of them at Christmas. And don’t forget to make a donation to Age UK each time you send it!'

Too many older people are suffering and dying needlessly in winter because of the effects of cold weather, so Age UK has launched its annual Spread the Warmth campaign. The Charity and its local and national partners are aiming to make winter warmer for 360,000 older people by providing information, advice and practical services to help keep warm and well in the colder winter months, preventing many thousands from being left isolated and alone. These include getting warm and nutritious meals to older people, helping to keep homes warm, and giving free information and advice 365 days a year.

Older people and their families can call Age UK Advice for free on 0800 169 65 65 (8am – 7pm), where they can also order a free copy of ‘Winter Wrapped Up’, a guide full of tips on how to stay warm and well in winter. Alternatively they can visit www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk to download the guide, get more information about Spread the Warmth and find out where their local Age UK  or shop is. There will be lots of ways to help Age UK Spread the Warmth this winter. People can make a donation simply by calling 0800 169 87 87 or visiting www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk.

-ENDS-

For more information or to talk to an Age UK spokesperson, contact Ashley Cox on 020 3033 1429 or email Ashley.cox@ageuk.org.uk

Notes to editors

Age UK
For media enquiries relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland please contact the appropriate national office: Age Scotland on 0131 668 8055, Age Cymru on 029 2043 1562 and Age NI on 028 9024 5729.

Winter 2011 marks the start of the second annual Age UK Spread the Warmth campaign. We are working with our local and national Age UK partners to deliver the campaign, along with the support of innocent, E.ON and Wilkinson.

About Age UK: Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged, dedicated to improving later life.

We provide free information, advice and support to over five million people; commercial products and services to over one million customers; and research and campaign on the issues that matter to people in later life. Our work focuses on five key areas: money matters, health and well being, home and care, work and training and leisure and lifestyle. We work with our national partners, Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI (together the Age UK Family), our local Age UK partners in England and local Age Concerns. We also work internationally for people in later life as a member of the DEC and with our sister charity Help Age International.

Age UK is a charitable company limited by guarantee and registered in England (registered charity number 1128267 and company number 6825798). Age Concern England and Help the Aged (both registered charities), and their trading and other associated companies merged on the 1st April 2009. Together they have formed the Age UK Group (“we”).  Charitable services are offered through Age UK and commercial products are offered by the Charity’s trading companies, which donate their net profits to Age UK (the Charity). 

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 2081