When BBC Radio Sheffield appealed for cards for Winnie Blagden’s 100th birthday back in May, little did they realise the appeal would be seen and heard by millions, and spark a wave of support for isolated older people.
Claire Thompson, marketing manager at Mercury Taxis – which in June merged with City Taxis – arranged for Winnie to be taken to and from her special celebrations.
This week, inspired by Winnie’s story, Kathy Markwick the community development officer of Home Instead Senior Care asked Claire to make one of their customers birthday extra special- at 105!
Claire said: “Kathy was alerted by Kay Travis’s carer that Crosspool resident Kay was 105 this Friday- 14 August, which coincided beautifully with Home Instead’s regular monthly afternoon Superjam tea dance.
“I knew there’s was no better birthday present that City Taxis could offer Kay than a free taxi to and from the event.”
“Mrs Travis was a customer of Mercury for a lot of years. We all admire how she gets out twice a week with the help of her Zimmer frame and regular driver, Sarfaraz Ismail who has been a loyal driver of ours for the past eleven years.
“Sarfaraz moved to City with the merger in June and he tells us Mrs Travis claims the secret to her long life is healthy eating- so we’re all taking note!”
Kay arrived at the Holiday Inn Barnsley, a principal sponsor of the Superjam Tea Parties, with Enis Evans who has been her caregiver for eight years. Enis says she is simply in awe of just how well Kay is and sprightly for 105 years old this Friday.
Since joining Home Instead Senior Care after a 34 year career in banking, Kathy has seen first-hand how rife social isolation is across the Sheffield and Barnsley Region.
“Kay has lived in her own home for over 80 years and is able to do so with the support of Home Instead Senior Care Sheffield. Kay and Enis have developed a unique relationship, which is more like mother and daughter or best friends, than employer and employee.
“They genuinely quite literally care for each other and we all sincerely believe that this is what keeps them going. They both value their time together, love going shopping and going out for lunch every week.”
Bryn Evans, MD of Home Instead Senior Care Barnsley & Sheffield, said that a recent survey by AgeUK showed over a third of our seniors often feel lonely.
He added: “In the past 60 years we have seen male life expectancy rise from 77 to 86 and by 2050 this is expected to rise to 91. Right now there are 15,000 people like Kay aged 100 or over and the steepest rise in reported loneliness is among the oldest age 80+, where roughly half the respondents report feeling a lack of companionship.
“We are trying to do something about that and sincerely believe that no one should suffer from loneliness. It has been said that loneliness is as bad for someone’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”
Kathy Markwick said: “We are extremely grateful to all our sponsors including MADE festival star, ‘Jam Boy’ Fraser Doherty. With numbers rising fast from 40 at the first event to 120 this week, we are looking for local businesses to pledge their support and sponsor places at the next Superjam Tea Parties.
“Sponsorship packages start at £25 for 5 places and are the perfect way of bringing laughter and friendship into people’s lives.”