83 year old Ron Hoverd is looking forward to Christmas. But he can also remember a time when he wasn’t.
Ron, who lives on the Isle of Wight, and his wife Mary were inseparable during their 45-years of marriage. The former RAF corporal was at Mary’s bedside when she died. Her death left him devastated and struggling to cope.
“I couldn’t have had a better woman which made losing her so difficult. I watched her die, which was heart-breaking. After the funeral I reached rock bottom and was struggling to get by. I was so lonely. Mornings were the worst. Everything was so quiet. No one to say good morning to and waking up to the emptiness of the house,” said Ron.
For Ron, who has no immediate family, Christmas was one of the most difficult times.
“There’s nothing worse than being on your own at Christmas,” he said.
“You know you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself, but you’re sat there by yourself, wishing the day would end.”
Age UK put Ron in touch with his local Abbeyfield House in Cowes, where staff invited him to join them for Christmas Day lunch. Since then, Ron has become a regular at Abbeyfield Clifton House.
An avid gardener, he volunteers to help make sure the house’s grounds bloom and enjoys a homemade lunch several times a week. But more importantly, he thrives from having the company of other around him.
“It’s a lifesaver from my point of view. It means so much having Abbeyfield there.”
An estimated 500,000 older people are expected to spend Christmas alone in the UK.
Abbeyfield’s annual Companionship at Christmas campaign offers older people affected by loneliness the chance to share physical, emotional and spiritual warmth during the festive period and beyond.
Up and down the country, Abbeyfield houses will open their door providing free overnight stays, meals and entertainment.
“The Christmas build up resonates with excitement and celebration for many of us, yet it’s a time when older people can feel at their most isolated and alone,” said Abbeyfield chief executive David McCullough.
“Their usual clubs or activities close down for Christmas, relatives are dotted across the UK far away from them and feelings of bereavement for lost loved ones is amplified at a time when families traditionally come together.”
Now in its eighth year, Companionship at Christmas has offered a lifeline of warmth and friendship to thousands of older people at Christmas.
If you or anyone you know is worried about being alone over Christmas, please do get in touch with Abbeyfield and join in the free Christmas events and celebrations happening across the UK.