Age UK’s Senior Wellbeing co-ordinator, Mandie Giles thought she was calling someone else when Fran picked up. During the brief conversation that followed it turned out that Fran was new to Paignton and didn’t have many people to talk to.
Thinking that meant that Fran was lonely, Mandie arranged to visit her at home in Montesson Close, but it didn’t take long for the mix up to be explained – not only was Fran not lonely, she had a background in volunteering in Newhaven where she used to live.
Fran’s partners work brought them to the Bay and by coincidence it was soon after that she received the phone call: “Mandie got hold of the wrong end of the stick, but I am so glad she did,“ said Fran.
“When I first moved down here, my partner Reg was at work all day, and I was struggling to meet new people. It was such a lovely co-incidence, Mandie was looking for volunteers to become befrienders and I was looking. In no time I was volunteering and helping organise events."
A former hairdresser, Fran who is 66, was soon doing five or six hours a week keeping people company and helping out lonely people in the area through Age UK working with the Big Lottery Funded Ageing Well Torbay.
She is now a regular visitor to two people – one she takes to a lunch she organises every third Thursday in the month at Grand Central in Paignton as well as helping with dental appointments, shopping and the like.
Another who is bed bound after a stroke, she regularly visits to give them a bit of company, but Fran is worried that when she emigrates to Turkey next year there will be no-one to take her place.
“I love what I do, I absolutely love it. I try to put smiles on faces. I want to make sure everyone is Ok and that is why I want to find my own replacement.”
Mandie said of Fran: “She is one of the most passionate people I have met in a long time, you can tell from just watching her at the lunch how much enjoyment she gets out of all the people coming and enjoying some time together."
“Fran organising this and supporting people has meant that her time here in Torbay has become fun again and she wasn’t stuck indoors lonely and isolated herself."
“Fran going will leave a huge hole in the Wellbeing team in Paignton. We need someone as passionate as her to carry on the lunch club every month and support the two people she supports outside the club.“
Fran and Reg are hoping to move to Altinkum in Turkey where they have spent many happy holidays, but not before they finally get married 25 years after Fran first proposed: “He said yes, but said he would only do it after his beloved Fulham won the cup.”
Sadly that has not happened, but the move to a new country has now provided Reg with the extra bit of impetus he needed.
So next year is a big one for Fran and ahead of planning a wedding has launched the search for her replacement: “It is going to be a big year, but I will feel so much better about everything when I know there is someone to take over,“ she said.
If you are that person then please get in touch with Mandie on her correct telephone number 01803 555181 or drop her an email: Amanda@ageuktorbay.org.uk.
If you would like to reconnect with your community, please follow any of the below instructions:
- Contact your Age UK Torbay wellbeing coordinator on 01803 555181 or by email: wellbeingcoordinator@firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Contact Ageing Well on 01803 212638 or by email: email@example.com.
- Use this platform to find out more about the activities that interest you.
- Contact your neighbourhood's Community Builder.
If you would like to arrange an interview or require photos, please contact David Gledhill from Ageing Well Torbay on 07715 770303 or by email: DavidGledhill@Torbaycdt.org.uk.