Tuesday, 22 Sep 2020

Lonely man, 75, who put up poster asking for friends flooded with offers

A lonely pensioner who made an emotional plea to find friends after the death of his wife has received an outpouring of support from kind-hearted strangers across the world.

Tony Williams, 75, said ever since his ‘soul mate’ Jo of 35 years, died days after being diagnosed with cancer in May, he has been living in an ‘unbearable torture’ of silence. He has no children or family and said he spends days alone at home waiting for a phone call that never comes.

In a bid to find someone to chat to, the retired physicist placed adverts in the local paper and even handed out cards including his details – but no one called. As a last resort, Hampshire-based Tony put up a poster in his window pleading for someone to end his loneliness.

And hundreds of kind-hearted readers have answered his plea. Since sharing his story yesterday, Metro.co.uk has been inundated with emails and social media messages from strangers offering to befriend Tony.

Hundreds from across the UK and Ireland, the Netherlands, Hungary and even from as far as the US, Canada and Hong Kong, said they were ‘heart-broken’ and ‘in tears’ after reading the pensioner’s appeal.

People from as young as 17 up to those in their 90s said ‘no one should feel alone in this world’ – particularly during a pandemic.

Fellow physicists said they would love to talk all things science with Tony, while others shared their stories of losing a loved one to cancer. Widowers said they ‘know what it feels like’ to suffer with loneliness and hoped too to find a new friend.

Charlie Howard, 27, from Southampton, said he would love to talk to Tony and hopefully ‘match him with somebody else who feels the same way’.

He told Metro.co.uk: ‘My nan passed away two years ago from aggressive cancer, with just eight weeks between diagnosis and her passing, leaving behind a large family, but most importantly, my wonderful granddad’.

Charlie said although 84-year-old granddad Mike Fox has the support from the whole family, he too gets lonely without having anyone around who understands how it feels ‘to lose your partner of so many years’.

‘Two people who have experienced a similar loss may be able to help each other push through the darkness of solitude and loneliness,’ he said, adding that he hopes Tony finds ‘happiness and friendship’ from his appeal.

Moved residents from Tony’s town of Alton offered to pop round for a brew, while those further away said they would love to give him a call, chat on Zoom, become a pen pal, or send postcards and Christmas cards to ‘cheer him up’.

Sarah Grater, 56, from Seaton in Devon, said Tony’s story reminded her ‘so much’ of her ‘dear dad’ who shared the same name. After her mother died in March 2016, she said her dad was left ‘so grief stricken’ but fortunately had Sarah to speak to every day.

‘He died of a broken heart six months after mum. If I can help someone else I would feel privileged,’ added Sarah.

She said she was ‘thrilled’ so many had responded to the pensioner’s plight, adding: ‘Tony won’t be lonely for much longer. That makes me so happy.’

Widow Catherine Gordon, from Gosport, in Hampshire, said she would be happy to chat to Tony ‘any time’ as she has ‘been in his situation and knows how he feels’.

The 69-year-old lost lost her husband Jim, 64, in 2011 and has lived alone ever since. She has no family nearby but luckily has a strong support network.

She added: ‘Sadly not all your friends want to hear your memories, but if there are just one or two who have lost someone, then you know you can swap stories and feelings. There are times when that’s all you need.’

Charities, organisations, care workers, Samaritan volunteers and people who have worked on cancer wards, also offered Tony support and invited him to join elderly lunch clubs and activities.

Carer Camille Cheshire, from Hedge End, Hampshire, said Tony’s story ‘really pulled on my heart strings’ and offered to help.

The 31-year-old, who works for Sunnylives Support Services and has a partner working in the ambulance service, said they have both witnessed first-hand how isolating it can be for people living alone.

Camille said: ‘We see all too often the detrimental effects of loneliness and isolation; most people understand that this can be harder at celebration times like Christmas, however it’s often forgotten that it is also some people’s everyday.

‘Even a phone call can make such a difference – you don’t have to talk about current affairs, many people like to talk about their adults years, previous jobs and hobbies.

‘Everybody has their own story to tell and you’ll be surprised how many of those are extraordinary.’

Claire Coxwell, manager of local organisation Woolmer Forest Timebank, also invited Tony to join their volunteering group to ‘make some new friends’.

She said: ‘Our members offer each other friendship and neighbourly support and we also exchange skills and hobbies with each other.

‘We are also familiar with other groups in Tony’s home town of Alton so might be able to help him find friendship on his doorstep.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

For more stories like this, check our news page.

Source: Read Full Article

Related Posts