The charity, Age UK has recently experienced a surge in new volunteers after one of them, 78-year-old Terrence, won the hearts of thousands while appearing on BBC Breakfast television. Terrence’s deeply personal story of how becoming involved with Age UK helped him fight off loneliness, has inspired viewers nationwide to sign up themselves in their droves.
20 Years of Loneliness
Terrence, from Oldham in Manchester, appeared on BBC Breakfast Time in December last year. During the interview, he heart-wrenchingly described how 20 years ago, his mother’s sudden death, followed by the ending of a long-term relationship had left him alone and severely depressed during the festive season. For the next 20 years, he spent Christmas Day in his house alone and with no-one to talk to. Terrence explained to host Dan Walker during the Breakfast broadcast;
“Since my mother passed 20 years ago, I’ve had every Christmas on my own and you do feel it, very much so. But this year, it’s going to be different.” (Express Online, 2019)
Some years ago, Terrence’s loneliness developed into severe depression. During this time he was encouraged by a friend to get in touch with the charity, Age UK. He started attending a computer class run by the charity to help older people learn how to use new technology and he loved it. Soon, he got even more involved and became the newest recruit to Age UK’s group of befrienders. Befrienders are volunteers who are matched with an older person who they keep company and build a friendship with. The befrienders will regularly phone their match or even visit them in person, sharing a cup of tea and a natter.
A New Lease of Life
Terrence was paired up with 90-year old, Nancy. Living with severe dementia, Nancy resides in a care home and Terrence visits her every week. Though she has difficulty remembering who he is, Nancy enjoys Terrence’s visits immensely and Terrence, in turn, has found a whole new lease of life thanks to the visits. Together, the two have formed a special bond. Terrence explained during the BBC interview;
“It’s funny that we seem to have just clicked. We have such a laugh together even though she doesn’t know who I am. She loves me and I love her. I’d miss going to her now.” (Express Online, 2019)
Alone No More
Since his moment in the spotlight, Terrence has been embraced by the nation and is even known affectionately in his local area as “Oldham’s Celebrity Pensioner”. What’s more, Terrence spent Christmas day last year with Nancy at the nursing home, the first in 20 years he didn’t spend alone. Terrence even got an unexpected surprise in the shape of a special carol singing concert outside his house which was organised by the student of a local college. Terrence is still volunteering with Age UK and encourages everyone to do the same. He said during his BBC television interview;
“Since I first got in touch with Age UK, it’s snowballed. I enjoy it so much. But I’m giving something back because Age UK gave me hope in the first place.” (Express Online, 2019)
To find out more about Age UK or to get involved, head over to their website.