Orchards in the Community

An 88 year old St Barnabas House patient and Ollie, year 6, have become pen pals after meeting at the hospice’s St B’s Schools Project – a pioneering scheme which invites local schoolchildren to visit the hospice to learn about hospice care and explore issues such as life, death and bereavement.

How it all began…

Ollie was selected for a special project based at St Barnabas where children meet older people who attend the day center once a week for an art project. The children and patients made various art pieces together over six sessions, and they also had a tour of the hospice, where they were able to discuss the many projects and aspects of the day center.

Ollie’s mum explained how she was able to attend the final session with Ollie at the hospice:

“Parents were invited to the last session to meet our child’s partner and so I met Don with Ollie. He was such a lovely man with a cheeky sense of humour which I think is why he got on so well with Ollie! As we said goodbye Ollie got quite emotional and said he didn’t want to say goodbye to Don, he’d enjoyed chatting with him so much. I suggested we could perhaps visit again, just on our own, when Don was next at the hospice. The lovely lady at the hospice, Marcelle, helped us to keep in touch by letter and then she asked if we could do an interview together with Don and Ollie asking questions about each other, and the hospice, and show interesting photos. It’s just grown from there. “

Don and Ollie now exchange letters every month or so and Don talks about his life and funny things he remembers from his school days, while Ollie tells him everything he’s doing in his life! During the pandemic last year, it was Don’s birthday, so Ollie baked him some fairy cakes and the family made up a birthday hamper and dropped it off to him. This year they sent him an afternoon tea, and Don very kindly sent Ollie a model Aston Martin, as he knows Ollie loves cars and a model plane! 

Ollie speaks very fondly of his time with Don. “I liked making art pieces with Don, his sense of humour and chatting in the interview. I’m enjoying sending letters and finding out about Don’s life. And finally, If you ever lose someone, smile because they were here, and don’t cry because they are gone…”

Click on the image below to watch the interview between Don and Ollie!

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