Elderly Meath widow says volunteer service a godsend amid Covid-19 crisis

Elderly Meath widow says volunteer service a godsend amid Covid-19 crisis
Brigid Kelly with her dog, Bella. Pictures: Seamus Farrelly

An elderly widow from Wilkinstown in Co, Meath says she would be lost without regular visits and phone calls from a volunteer who has been checking in on her in the midst of this frightening pandemic that is terrifying elderly people in communities across the county.

Brigid Kelly who is in her 70s started to avail of the Meath Befriending Service, a volunteer-led initiative to tackle loneliness and isolation among older people in the community when her beloved husband John to whom she was married to for 35 years passed away in 2017. It has since become a lifeline for the Wilkinstown woman.

Brigid says that the friendship she has developed with volunteer Patricia Daly will be a 'godsend' for her in the uncertain weeks ahead.

"Patricia calling in every week is great and I know that if I can't get out, she will bring me anything I need and that's a great comfort.

"I'm up and down about this virus but I'm trying to not let it bother me. At the moment, I'm good and healthy thank god. I take my green tea every day because that helps with my immune system.

Elderly Meath widow says volunteer service a godsend amid Covid-19 crisis

"I have been still getting out to bring my dog Bella for walks. I know you have to help your community by staying in but it's out in the open air on quiet roads.

Speaking about the difference volunteer Patricia has made to her life, Brigid said:

“My husband died two years ago in September and coming into the winter I found it very hard. Patricia comes out to me every week and we have a chat and a cup of tea. She keeps an eye on me and sees how I'm getting on.

Brigid Kelly looks forward to the visit every week from Patricia from Meath Befriending Service.

“It's the company really, we have a chat and a laugh. I look forward to the visit every week. She's very good and kind to me.”

Brigid, originally from Enniscorthy in Wexford, who says she 'makes it her business to socialise' insists a lockdown is 'not the end of the world.'

Elderly Meath widow says volunteer service a godsend amid Covid-19 crisis

“I’m very independent. The dog comes first, she has to be walked before I do any work at all.

"People say to me, you'll miss your bingo but what can you do, if Christmas Day falls on a Sunday I'll miss my bingo anyway so what difference does it make, there are more important things going on.

Life has changed dramatically for Brigid since John's passing as she struggled to cope with life on her own.

“John had heart failure. He went in for a check-up to the clinic in Navan Hospital one Thursday, his blood pressure was very low so they kept him in. I went to visit him on the Friday but he was fast asleep when I arrived and never woke up at all while I was there. I got a call on the Saturday to say he got a bad turn by the time I got a taxi in, he was gone so I never got to say goodbye.

Brigid with volunteer Patricia Daly
Brigid with volunteer Patricia Daly

“John and I had a very happy life together. We had one daughter Bridget Rose who lives in Cavan. She visits me all the time too which is great.”

Patricia Daly from Drumconrath who visits the Wilkinstown woman every week says she gets as much from volunteering as Brigid does.

“I look forward to seeing Brigid every week. We have the chat and catch up and I love listening to her telling me what she has done from week to week. She has a wee dog and I'm an animal lover so it works out well.

"It's as good for me as it is for her. She is just a friend now.

“I think it's more than important that the elderly are protected and provided for at this time and also that as much as possible their minds are put at ease.”

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