Friendship forged after Bristol care home pen pal appeal

  • Published
Pat Vaughan and El Fakhretdinova
Image caption,
Pat Vaughan and El Fakhretdinova have discussed knitting and ballroom dancing

A 94-year-old care home resident has struck up a friendship with a 20-year-old Dutch woman following an appeal for pen pals during lockdown.

Photos of residents at Cleeve Lodge care home in Bristol were posted on Facebook in July, asking for people with various interests to write.

Pat Vaughan has exchanged letters with El Fakhretdinova from Amsterdam.

Ms Vaughan said the long-distant friendship meant "a lot" because "you can never have too many friends".

"I've been telling El about my ballroom dancing," she said.

"I won silver and bronze medals, and would have liked to have been on Strictly Come Dancing."

Image caption,
Hundreds of letters have been sent to people living in the care home

Ms Vaughan received about 100 replies in total since the appeal was made, but has continued to exchange several letters with Ms Fakhretdinova.

"I've got friends of all ages. She's only a baby, but it means a lot," she said.

"It's always nice meeting new friends. You can never have too many friends. I'll keep on writing."

Ms Fakhretdinova, who is a student, said she responded to the request for pen pals because she thought it was a "wonderful opportunity".

"I love talking to people who have wisdom, and who can tell me all their fascinating life stories," she said.

"We began by talking about knitting, and her ballroom dancing past really intrigued me."

Image caption,
T'yanna Robinson (l) organised the pen pal appeal

She said the 74-year age gap was not a barrier.

"I really, really enjoy talking to Pat, and I hope we can keep this going, because I think we can become really close friends."

T'yanna Robinson, 19, who works at the home and organised the appeal, said the response since it began had been "overwhelming".

She said letters to other residents had also been received from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Africa.

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