September 25, 2022

First with the Alderney News

Youngsters meet up with their lockdown pen friends

2 min read

Alderney youngsters who wrote letters to elderly residents during lockdown met up with their penfriends at school this week.

The children served the visitors afternoon tea at St Anne’s School and sang songs to them in a noisy, joyous afternoon.

The penfriend scheme was the idea of Barbara Benfield who runs Age Concern Alderney.

When lockdown began in March many of her clients found themselves isolated inside their homes, unable to see family or members of Barbara’s team.

She put an appeal out for as many children as possible to write a letter which she personally then posted along with a small bottle of wine and a box of chocolates to elderly residents who were alone.

Around 80 children both on and off Island wrote letters and she delivered around 160 of them.

She said:

‘Suddenly visits to people’s homes weren’t possible and they were telling me that they were feeling very isolated and lonely. I just thought it would be nice for the children to write the letters in the hope that the elderly population would receive it and write back.’

Barbara said she was moved by the bonds that were formed.

‘The letters were a lifeline with the outside world. It was a child writing to them and telling them about their life and they wrote back and told them about their life and it formed a bond. The elderly people have really looked forward to meeting their pen friends and seeing how that’s gone has been absolutely amazing.’

Kelan Digney wrote to Pat Magnum and he served cake and tea to her at the reunion afternoon.

‘I was playing football outside when my mum called me in to write a letter.

‘I wrote about my life and how I like football. We sent a thousand peice jigsaw puzzle of Amsterdam.

‘My grandfather gave it to me and we couldn’t do itHe told me his mothers name and fathers name and about her sister who is a little bit older than me. Today has been cool.’

Kelan met up with Pat Magnum

Mrs Magnum said:

‘It was lovely getting the pen letters from him. People didn’t realise that we were stuck in and they were helping us by writing to us.’

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