Terry Dobson, a 93-year-old care home resident at Lindley Grange Bupa Care Home in Huddersfield, and his pen pal Niamh Dyble, aged 8, are set to celebrate their close bond ahead of National Best Friends Day on June 8th.
The duo will be celebrating their friendship with a special visit, whereby Niamh, accompanied by her Mum Noleen, is set to challenge Terry to a dominoes tournament, followed by a chat and a slice of cake in the grounds of Lindley Grange.
Terry and Niamh’s friendship began when Terry wrote a Christmas card to Niamh as part of Lindley Grange’s #NationalLetterWritingDay activity, in which residents wrote Christmas cards to local school pupils at Reinwood Junior School.
Becky Crowe, Activities Coordinator at Lindley Grange, said: “We linked up with Reinwood Junior School to see if any pupils would like to become pen pals with any of our lovely residents. Terry and Niamh hit it off and have kept in touch, sending letters regularly to each other, and learning more about each other’s lives.”
Terry worked in the Navy as a Radar Operator after joining in 1945 when he was just sixteen. Upon leaving the Navy, he settled down in Wakefield, his hometown. He then moved to Huddersfield in 1964 and worked in sales for Typhoo Tea and enjoyed a busy family life, with his three children and six grandchildren. When asked about the pen pal programme, Terry shared: “I am very happy that Niamh and I are friends and love the pictures that she draws for me.”
On April 8th Niamh and her Mum, Noleen, surprised Terry by visiting him face-to-face for the first time as part of his 93rd birthday celebrations. Despite it being Terry’s birthday, Terry’s daughter Claire wanted to thank Niamh by gifting her an Easter egg to thank her for being such a good friend to Terry- much to Niamh’s delight. They then enjoyed a long chat about a topic that they frequently discuss in their letters: animals.
Niamh commented: “I love animals and so does Terry, so it was great to chat about our favourite animals! My favourite is a giraffe and Terry likes rabbits and shire horses.”
Terry and Niamh also enjoy discussing their favourite hobbies and activities. For their upcoming celebratory visit for National Best Friends Day, they are looking forward to speaking more about Terry’s hobbies, gardening, birdwatching and playing dominoes, and Niamh’s favourite activities, drawing, reading and playing with her puppy.
When asked what his favourite thing is about their friendship, Terry said: “It’s so nice to have a friend who makes me cards!”
Niamh’s mother, Noleen, added: “Terry and Niamh’s friendship is absolutely lovely. It’s testament to how friendship can transcend age and can add a lot of joy to both participants lives. Niamh learns so much from Terry and it’s great to see how much he enjoys her company too!”
Following their upcoming special visit, Terry and Niamh are looking forward to continuing their unique friendship through regular letter correspondence and in-person visits.
Lindley Grange Bupa Care Home is situated in Huddersfield and welcomes residents in need of nursing or residential care, including those living with dementia and Parkinson’s. For further information, please visit https://www.bupa.co.uk/care-services