I first met Ellen who is 94 years old at our local Neighbourhood Watch scheme some years ago at which time she was an active member. Recently, I visited the warden responsible for the Tudor Stacks retirement village (Herne Hill) where she now lives, to have a chat about what we do, and on the way out I called in to say hello to Ellen.
It was during our conversation that she said she hated the weekend because she had no family to visit her. All the other residents were with their families, and she felt lonely and depressed. She went on to mention that she would love to go to Dulwich Park as she hadn’t been there for years.
So my wife and kids decided to take her to the park. We collected her and her wheelchair and spent the afternoon strolling around the park. Half way around she even insisted on stopping to buy us all ice creams.
Ellen has a fascinating background. She was brought up near the Walworth Road, and her dad was in and out of the local workhouse sanatorium. After he died, the family lived with an Aunt in a big house in Camberwell.
Ellen has a great voice and as a young woman was advised to get it trained, but with four kids and no money, that was not an option. However, she decided to treat us and passers-by to a tune or two whilst we were in the park. This caused passers-by first to stop in amazement, and then applaud and cheer loudly when she had finished.
She was so grateful and couldn’t stop thanking us enough saying that we had made her so happy, and she couldn’t wait to get back to tell all the other residents about her day out.
When I dropped her off she said, “Thanks for a great day out. Do you know what I’m going to do now Tony?”
I asked what?
She replied with a raucous laugh, “Have a fag!”
Well at 94, why not!
Owner of Home Instead in Wandsworth