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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Pandemic pen pals span the generations

Pandemic restrictions have sparked a heart-warming collaboration between Burgmann Anglican School students and aged care residents at St Andrews Village in Hughes.

A group of 18 students across Years 11 and 12 have started a pen pal system with residents in the village, as the first set of letters were handed over on Friday 5 June.

St Andrews recreational and lifestyle coordinator Beverley Webb said it all started with an email.

“Burgmann Anglican School contacted us saying they would like to start a letter writing program when the kids were having to stay home from school,” she said.  

“We said ‘yes, we would love to take on that opportunity’. The kids drafted their letters and we took a drive over today with six of our residents to pick them up.”

Resident Barrie Virtue made the trip to the college on Friday, and said he thought the initiative was a great idea.

“I told the kids when you’re living in aged care, it’s easy for people to forget you’re there. It was lovely to get their letters,” he said. 

“Lauren wrote a joint letter to my wife Claire and I and there are so many questions to answer.

“The first one was ‘how long have you been together?’ and the answer to that is 66 years.”

St Andrews resident Ida Fairhurst reading her letter.

Ms Webb said the pen pal partnership was a fantastic way to keep the residents connected with the community, especially now with limited access to participate in other activities.

“We had a letter writing scheme last year with Hughes Primary School and they were Year 5 and it was really interesting,” she said.

“A young girl asked Barrie about a Rhianna song and we had to google it and have a listen.”

After receiving the first set of letters on Friday, the residents will respond with their own letter next month.  

Mr Virtue said he hadn’t thought of what he would write back yet.

“She talked about being in Isolation and we have been in isolation too, but we still have people to talk and annoy,” he said with a laugh. 

“We will tell her some of the activities we have started up again; one of mine and Claire’s favourites is a lady who comes in to play the piano and we sing a few songs.

“I think we will ask her a few questions about what she wants to do in the future as well.”

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