First Out of the Gate

With an end to the restrictions getting tantalisingly close, feelings of hope and positivity are in the air. You may be making plans: to hug your loved ones, to welcome new babies or pets, to celebrate milestones reached during the lockdown, perhaps even to grieve those lost. Although the future does looks brighter, many people within our communities will continue to need our support.

Communities 1st works with a variety of partners to support the physical and mental wellbeing of vulnerable and isolated residents. Their volunteers have shown remarkable energy, commitment and generosity throughout this difficult period. They have provided residents with doorstep chats, cheery telephone conversations, and a reliable home delivery service, all with a smile.

Eleanor, known affectionately by her Conservative Club friends as ‘Racy Lady’ (and yes, her husband knows) has been receiving shopping deliveries from Communities 1st for several months. Eleanor is, without a doubt, a people person - surrounded by laughter and always the centre of a crowd! She has been happily married for over 53 years and thrives on her relationships with her family and friends.

Eleanor describes her experience with Communities 1st as a ‘godsend’. Eleanor is so grateful for her shopping deliveries that she kindly made a donation to Communities 1st in return. She describes all the volunteers as lovely, and says she has especially enjoyed a smile and a quick doorstep chat during the warmer months.

Eleanor has some unique and interesting memories of her early life. Her father was a horse dealer, and was put in charge of the horses during World War 1. Several years later he took young Eleanor with him to sell horses at the horse-trading market in Elephant and Castle; she would ride them to demonstrate how calm they were. Eleanor shared the tale of an elephant from a visiting circus, that was stabled overnight in her family’s horse stalls and collected very early the next morning. Eleanor giggled as she recounted how perplexed the neighbours were that morning, by some exceptionally large ‘deposits’ on the road!

In normal times Eleanor is kept busy with many social activities and outings, and can be found at the local Conservative club, a tightly-knit, vibrant community. With lockdown these activities and gatherings came to an abrupt halt. Eleanor believes the restrictions have brought out best in people; neighbours have popped round to check on her, and she has received deliveries care packages and food parcels. During the lockdown Eleanor has been able to access streaming services and shop online, but has yet to master video-calling. She prefers to stay connected through photos, telephone calls and garden visits when permitted, sitting in the sun with friends and family.

Like so many of us, Eleanor wants desperately to get back to living life to the full. She can’t wait to see people in the flesh and have a good old shindig with her friends. More than anything, Eleanor wants to celebrate her son’s successful kidney transplant and 50th birthday a few months later. What a party there will be later this year!

As she remembered the old Yiddish quote, ‘man makes plans and God laughs’, Eleanor’s advice was to make the most of the life you have. Like a horse champing at the bit, Eleanor will be first out of the gate to enjoy the life she has left! Here’s to many more years of excitement and laughter.

Written by Etain Ferdenzi