“My wife Joan died suddenly. It was 3 days before my 80th birthday. We had been together for 58 years. My brain hit a brick wall.

I would wake up, make breakfast and then realise she wasn’t there. I would go to the café and it would all be couples. I was there on my own. That would crush me inside.

After a year, I decided I had to do something. My friend Eve encouraged me to join the University of the Third Age. With her support, I joined a singing group. I made new friends. Now I am never at home. I’m always out singing, dancing or painting. I recently learnt to take off and land a light aircraft (not solo of course)!

But I am luckier than lots of older people. I have a loving family and friends. In the weeks after Joan died, I received so much love and affection from them – especially my daughter Deb.

“One person can make a big difference”

Eve helped me to take the first step to overcome my loneliness. One person can make a big difference. Without Eve I might not be where I am today.

But Christmas is hard. Christmas is a family time. If you haven’t got a family, it’s just another weekend on your own.  

So my advice is – talk to your neighbours –  especially if you know an older person is alone.

Send a card saying “would you like to talk?” “Would you like a mince pie?” Give people a call. Knock on the door to say “Merry Christmas, are you ok”?

It’s Christmas, let’s get together! You can be the person to make the difference.