Good Causes

Helping veterans through lockdown

Before she retired, Diana, 79, was a nurse. She met her husband, Charles, 85, when he was stationed at a Navy base near where she lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Charles served on HMS Vidal (he’s on the left in the photo below) as a Naval Air Mechanic.

Now, the couple live near Manchester and Diana helps to care for Charles, who has Parkinson’s disease and heart problems. Lockdown has been tough for them because, like many older people, they need to maintain social distancing for longer than much of the UK’s younger population and they’re missing hugs with their family. Diana said “we’ve terribly missed our children, grandchildren and new great grandchild.”

It’s quite the family too. Diana describes get-togethers as “standing room only”. They have 3 children, 6 grandchildren and a 10-week-old great granddaughter called Ella who they’ve met, but only from a distance.

Before lockdown, Diana and Charles were regulars at breakfasts arranged by Trafford Veterans, a National Lottery funded project caring for people who have served in both the military and the emergency services. With musical guests and speakers, these breakfasts were a great way for the couple to get out and meet new people. Diana said “[the breakfasts were] something we really looked forward to. We’ve missed the friendships.”

Since lockdown started Trafford Veterans has changed its approach. Instead of arranging events, they now deliver three-course cooked meals to local members on a Thursday night. Diana said, “Thursdays are like Christmas; we always look forward to the Trafford Veterans’ bus arriving.”

They don’t always know what the meal will be, making it a nice surprise. Diana thinks that’s a good thing. She said “I look forward to it, especially when the dessert is sticky toffee pudding”. She said, “I would never have eaten it before, I wouldn’t have ever picked it.”

Like many of us, Diana and Charles have found lockdown an emotional rollercoaster. At the start, things felt different. Diana said, “I was full of energy, cleaning cupboards and the oven but later on I was finding it hard to get motivated. I forget what day it is, it’s a good job my husband’s pills have the days written on.”

To help keep them entertained, the Trafford Veterans’ meal packages also include puzzle books, jigsaws and diamond art. Diana said, “It keeps your brain active instead of watching TV, and breaks the monotony.”

Keeping in touch with the military family is important too. Charles and Diana would usually have attended an Armed Forces Day event, but that wasn’t possible this year. Instead Trafford Veterans made sure everyone got a newsletter keeping them updated on how the day went. The couple commemorated the event by getting out their best china and having tea in the front garden.

10th July 2020

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