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LOCKDOWN FRIENDSHIP: Heartwarming moment elderly lady meets saviour for the first time

A self-isolating widow who sparked up a lockdown friendship via regular phone calls during a year of restrictions has met her saviour ‘befriender’ for the first time.

84-year-old Eileen Kirkham  after speaking to Age UK North Tyneside volunteer Dianne Graham over the past 12 months, after the charity launched a telephone befriending service to temporarily replace its face-to-face service.

The two have become firm friends, but until now had never seen one another in person - the pair didn't even know what one another looked like. The duo got to chat it out on Wednesday (28th April) on a bench in Eileen's back garden, which has been embossed with an engraved plaque to Eileen's late husband. She told us that she looks forward to her phone call every Monday and described it as "an hour of pleasure". Volunteer Dianne also expressed great joy in being able to meet Eileen for the first time since their lockdown friendship began. She told us that the pair will hopefully get out and about for drives in the car once the pandemic is over.

Age UK North Tyneside’s Telephone Befriending Co-ordinator, Carol MacMurtrie, said the charity has received funding from the National lottery's Community Fund to allow them to continue the vital telephone service for another year. She said "I'm really happy it has been successful" when describing the service, after her team had to quickly evolve to work around lockdown restrictions.  and ensure they could still support the dozens of isolating older people across the area.


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