Joy, 88, said: "My husband died and left me on my own. I managed to cope with things and get by at first. But in the last two years it got very lonely and miserable. I saw my daughter once a week, but the rest of the time I was on my own with nobody to talk to. I thought, 'This can’t go on with me by myself'."
School sweethearts Ben Taylor and Emily McIntosh make a huge difference to the lives of an elderly housebound couple.
Ben and Emily, who are both 17, have become indispensable to the lives of 86-year-old couple Harry and Anne Pestell. The teenage couple have been running errands and spending time with Harry and Anne for more than a year and have become a joy in the elderly couple’s lives.
It was Ben and Emily’s head of Sixth Form Jenny Smith, who nominated them for YOPEY. She said: “They are lovely young people who have made a difference to the lives of an elderly couple.
“Young people don’t really do things like this anymore, but Ben and Emily do. They are gentle and kind and people should realise what they have been doing. They have been great to Harry to Anne.”
The teenagers started volunteering for the elderly couple as part of the volunteering scheme at their school, Sir Harry Smith Community College in Whittlesey, near Peterborough, but they continued to go around and help even after they had finished the scheme.
The young couple, who are currently studying A-levels at the Eastrea Road school became friends with Harry and Anne because they live just a few doors away from Ben in Whittlesey.
Harry said: “We’ve known Ben since he was a baby and he is such a lovely boy. Ben has always helped us but about a year ago he began bringing his girlfriend with him. We can trust Ben and Emily with anything in the house.”
Anne added: “We lost our home-help some time ago and it was wonderful of Ben and Emily to come around and help. They do the shopping for us and help with the chores and just chat to us.
“They are very involved in their studying and we like talking about that too. Both of them will go to university next year and I’m not sure what we will do without them!”
But Harry and Anne need not worry about Ben and Emily as they both hope to go to university in Cambridge and stay living at home – and continue helping Harry and Anne.
Ben said: “Emily and I started out cleaning for Harry and Anne as part of a volunteer scheme in school, but we continued to help them afterwards and plan to do so in the future.
“Anne doesn’t leave the house much because she is frail and until Harry became ill with heart problems, he used to do all the shopping. But since he has become housebound too, we pick up their shopping list once a week and buy the things from town.”
Ben and Emily both study A-level history and enjoy spending time with the older couple talking about their past experiences. Harry and Anne served in the Royal Navy during World War Two, and married a few years after it ended in 1948.
Earlier this year the couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, and Ben and Emily were around to help organise a special family meal.
Ben and Emily try to go around to help once a week and Harry and Anne know with confidence that if they ever need any additional help from the young couple, they only have to ask.
Emily said: “We love to chat with them and have a nice time. We talk about school and they try and help us with our studying. Ben is studying science and Harry and Anne like to pick out useful bits from newspapers and pass them too him.
“We really enjoy helping them out and they really get pleasure out of our visits.”
Ben and Emily have been dating for three years and have high hopes for their future together. They hope to take degrees together at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge where Ben would study computer sciences and Emily would do business management. But they will keep up their contact with Harry and Anne.