The COVID-19 pandemic has meant strict social distancing rules for the nation. But for a resident from our Luton care home and a young lady from West Yorkshire, it has encouraged a new friendship that spans generations.
Madge, who is 94, is a resident at Little Bramingham Farm care home in Luton. During the pandemic, staff at the home have encouraged activities and outreach programmes to help keep residents connected to their community. So, when six-year-old Ella wrote a letter to the care home, staff helped Madge to write a reply. Since then they have been regularly swapping letters. The 88 years of age difference has not stopped the two from forming a close bond.
Madge said: “We’ve really missed having children visit the care home since lockdown began, so receiving a letter from Ella was a lovely surprise.
“Reading her letters makes me think of my own childhood and I love learning about Ella’s lockdown adventures! They are very different to my own experiences, especially during the wartime when I was twelve.
“This new friendship with Ella means a lot. I have four children, eight grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren – soon to be ten once the twins are born! But sadly many members of my family live abroad, so we don’t see each other as often as we’d like. To receive letters from Ella is a real pick-me-up. It’s these small and kind things that help us stay strong in difficult times.”
Speaking about Ella and Madge’s correspondence, her father Ashley and his partner Charlotte, said: “When it was announced the schools would be closing, we wanted to ensure Ella excelled with her school work whilst we were also both working from home.
“Ella has always been top of her class in verbal spelling tests, but she does have her own way of writing words when it comes to pen and paper! We looked up care homes in Luton, as this is where Charlotte is originally from, and came across the website for Little Bramingham Farm. We contacted them to ask if Ella could write letters to a resident. They were fantastic and helped to set up a pen pal friendship between Ella and Madge.
“Besides the blossoming friendship, Ella’s handwriting skills have improved vastly. We received her end of year school report and it commented on how her handwriting has improved. We believe this is down to the frequent letters Ella and Madge send.”
Ella also had a project around VE Day and World War II. Madge was able to provide an insight into what it was like during that time. Ella’s beloved Great Grandad, Gordon, sadly passed away earlier this year. He would have been the person Ella would have gone to for support, especially with the VE Day project, as he served in the Irish Guard during the War.
“Writing to Madge has helped to keep the link between Ella and her Great Grandad and it has been lovely to see Ella learn a different perspective of what others did during the War. She has been able to have someone else to ask questions about the past, present and life since.
Madge and Ella’s friendship continues as they write letters to each other, even as lockdown restrictions across the country begin to lift. When it is finally safe to do so, staff at Little Bramingham Farm care home are hoping to arrange a meeting between the two.