Barunga resident creates international friendship

 

Distance isn’t standing in the way of a Barunga Homes resident and her pen pal in Ireland, who regularly write letters and have even started using Skype to share their life stories.

Barunga’s Joan Gill, 93, and May Sherlock, 81, from Sunhill Nursing Home in Louth, had been writing to one another for two years before they decided to embrace modern day technology to have face-to-face videos calls.

“It’s an amazing spectacle being able to see someone who is on the other side of the world, particularly someone you have been writing to for so long,” Joan said.

“We would usually write to each other once a month, because there is a time delay in receiving the letter and then sending it back.

“But now due to Skype we can get in touch more often.”

Join is particularly excited about their upcoming Skype call, scheduled for August, as the Barunga Homes choir will use the technology to put on a concert for May’s Ireland-based nursing home.

“We’re looking forward to the performance,” Joan said. “I never expected to have an experience like this at my age.”

Joan said her and May speak about the weather, their families and daily activities.

“The weather in Ireland is very different from ours, of course,” she said.

“On a whole, our daily activities are very similar, both of our homes have concerts, bingos, outings and yoga – but they also have laughing yoga, which we haven’t tried yet.

“We talk about our families. We both have grandchildren and great grandchildren – but I have 29 great grandchildren and she has three, so May has a little catching up to do!

“May is also a very good artist, she even painted me a picture of the house she used to live in. It’s so cute and has quaint little attic windows.”

The international friendship was initiated by Darren Robinson, a Diversional Therapist at Barunga Village, who contacted Sunhill Nursing Home to enquire if one of their residents would like to have a South Australian pen pal.

“Joan and May have a lot in common,” Darren said. “It’s a shame that these two ladies live so far away from one another, because they have really hit it off.

“I think if they were living in the same town, they would be visiting each other’s house every day.

“Joan has always been a very good writer and it’s great that she can use her skills regularly, as for Skype, the technology has opened up a whole new world of opportunity for our residents.”