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Newmarket's voluntary befriending service brings friendship to two ex-soldiers




Newmarket’s voluntary befriending service aims to provide company for elderly people who find it hard to get out and about, but for one volunteer the benefits of the new friendship are not all one way.

Peter Lawson, who is marketing manager of the the Voluntary Network, which runs the service, pays a weekly call to 96-year-old World War Two veteran Bill Bond, at his flat in Exning Court.

“I used to drive the voluntary network bus so I had met Bill before, but when I knew he was looking for a friend, I jumped at the chance,” said Peter.

Bill Bond(18928729)
Bill Bond(18928729)

“I have so much respect for him as a veteran of the battles at Salerno and Tobruk and the Normandy landings, that as a former soldier myself I was thrilled to have the chance of a weekly chat with him and getting to know him better.”

The pair are now firm friends and Peter plans to help fulfil one of the two items left on Bill’s ‘bucket list’.

“He wants to live to be 100, which I can’t do much about, but also to go back to Tiptree where he lived as a child,” said Peter.

“So I am arranging to take him there for the day to look around and have a meal and a pint.”

Bill’s daughter, Carol, said she had noticed the difference in her father since Peter had been dropping in.

“He’s only been at Exning Court three months and he was a bit quiet at first but over the last few weeks he has been back to his normal self,” she said. “Older people do love a chat and I am sure they do benefit from something like the befriending service, dad certainly does.”

The befriending service aims to pair up people over 65 who find it hard to get out to socialise with a volunteer friend who will visit them in their own home once or twice a week for a cuppa and a chat.

“We would love to hear from anyone who is a good listener, understanding and sensitive and can spare as little as one hour a week to make a new friend and ease feelings of isolation” said Peter.

More details of the service are available from Clair at the Voluntary Network on 01638 608048 or at clair.b@voluntary network.org