War veteran and First Choice Homes Oldham staff prove age is just a number

AN unlikely friendship between First Choice Homes Oldham’s (FCHO) Becky and 94-year-old Shaw resident Jack has blossomed during the coronavirus outbreak.

The pair, who chat every day, were acquainted when Becky volunteered to become a ‘befriender’ with Age UK Oldham during the lockdown period.

Jack chatting to Becky

Becky, who works as an advisor in FCHO’s Employment Service, was matched with Jack and the pair hit it off straight away – with Jack telling Becky all about his service in India during World War 2 and Becky getting her 9-year-old daughter Caitlin involved.

Becky said: “I call Jack every day at 1.30pm and both my daughter and I really look forward to it. He is so knowledgeable – he knows loads about birds and helps us identify the different species that come into our garden.

“My daughter Caitlin found a bright blue egg shell in the garden and Jack knew instantly what it was – a Starling egg. Today he helped us to work out the difference between a Robin and Bull Finch.”

“Chatting with Jack is like soup for the soul – I don’t know who’s helping who. My daughter and I get as much out of it as he does.”

Jack’s children, who live far away, have recently bought him a laptop and despite his age, he’s managing to video call through Skype every day – so he can see Becky and Caitlin too.

Caitlin

Becky added: “My daughter plays the keyboard and really enjoys performing recitals for him. One of Jack’s favourites is ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ – so Caitlin got to work learning how to play that for him. It was his birthday last week so we sang Happy Birthday to him too. Jack loved it.

“I’ve got a very special call scheduled this Friday where Jack, Caitlin and I will be virtually celebrating the 75thanniversary of VE Day together.

“Jack was in Kumar, India when the end of the Second World War was announced. He was stood on a car park and remembers mass celebrations erupting all around him. It’s so moving hearing his tales. He’s a real-life war hero.”

Jack lives alone after his wife Doreen passed away seven years ago. His four children keep in regular contact but don’t live in the area so daily phone calls with Becky and Caitlin have done wonders during this difficult time.

Jack, who lives in High Crompton, said: “I really enjoy our calls. I am so grateful every time Becky phones me and it feels like I’ve known her for years.

“She’s so easy to talk to and really brightens up my day.”

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