One has lived through four monarchs and one world war, has served in the army and been married for 48 years, the other is 10 years old and living at home with his parents, but the two have formed a strong bond with a personal sentiment for each other.
10-year-old Kian Donnelly has been visiting 90-year-old Roy Melville in Beech Manor Care Home in Blairgowrie for over a year but much to his frustration, still hasn’t won a game of drafts.
The weekly visits, arranged by the care home and St Stephen’s RC Primary School, have impacted both lives in numerous ways.
Roy, who has no children or grandchildren of his own, treasures the company of his younger friend and has found joy in teaching him new skills, offering advice and telling him all about his own life and travels.
Kian, primary five, looks forward to the meetings each week and has learned numerous skills from Roy. He has developed a better grasp for what it’s like to live in a care home, helping him to understand what it means for his gran to be living with Parkinson’s Disease.
Shocked that Kian wasn’t being taught knitting in school, Roy has taught him how to knit and the pair are set to take part in a project that will see them make hats for premature babies in the local hospital. Kian has also learned more about gardening and pushes Roy, who is now in a wheelchair, around the grounds on his visit as they discuss the differences and similarities between their lives.
Kian is returning the favour and will start to teach Roy how to use an iPad, while he often entertains him playing the piano and the violin.
Roy and wife Janet (80) moved into the care home one year ago after Janet had a stroke and couldn’t care for Roy anymore. Married for 48 years, the couple met in Bridge of Earn Hospital when Janet cared for Roy after he broke both his legs. Janet and her sister have also met Kian, with her sister helping him with his knitting skills.
After serving with the army in Israel and Egypt for two years, travelling the world with Janet and his time within the road services department of the council, Roy has 90 years of life experience in which Kian dotes on when he needs advice.
Kian said: “When I first met Roy he was out in the garden every day, I started to help him if he couldn’t reach a flower bed or he needed a weed pulled out, and we’ve been friends ever since.
“Even though we met through visits set up by the school, I’ll definitely continue to come and spend time with Roy when I leave primary school, I really look forward to our games of drafts and whenever I have any issues or worries, Roy can more often than not help me out.”
Roy said: “In Kian I’ve found a great friendship that really means a lot – although he’ll never beat me at drafts, he’s learning fast.
“School for Kian is much, much different to my days and it’s great to be able to share some of the things I’ve learned.
“It was never the plan to move to a care home but when Janet had a stroke we ended up here and we settled in straight away. It’s been great to meet Kian through life at the home and I look forward to our meetings every week.”
Sheila Baxter, activities co-ordinator at Renaissance Care’s Beech Manor Care Home, said: “During Loneliness Awareness Week, it’s really important that we are highlighting the special kind of friendships that for a lot of our residents, can be the difference of no visitors to someone to look forward to seeing each week.
“There may be an 80 year age difference between Roy and Kian but we’ve seen them bond over many different things to grow a great friendship that will outlive the programme we have with the local schools.”
Loneliness Awareness Week takes place from 17-21 June, designed to raise awareness of loneliness and the stigmas attached to it.