Stella and Julia’s Story
Julia is a volunteer with the Impetus Neighbourhood Care Scheme (NCS). Julia wrote the following about visiting NCS member Stella.
It’s been almost two years since I met Stella for the first time. She brings so much happiness into my life and I look forward to our weekly meetings every Saturday.
I’d never met a 93-year-old person before Stella and I was curious about what to expect, what stories she’d have to tell.
I chose her from the different scheme member profiles I was sent, as she used to be a dancer, like myself, and was still doing line dancing up until only a few years ago. I thought that might give us something to talk about.
I was right, but it’s not only the dancing we talk about. We discuss all sorts of things and our meetings are much more than just a polite visit from my side. We are genuinely now two friends meeting up for tea, chocolate biscuits and a chat.
Stella keeps wondering why a young girl like me (I’m 35 but Stella also calls people in their 70s ‘young’) would want to spend time with her on a Saturday morning. She thinks she’s not that exciting and neither has her life been.
I disagree. From what Stella tells me, she’s done lots of interesting things and obviously experienced a very different time in this world too.
She was only 14 when the war broke out. She worked in a shop in London then and wore high heels to work every day. Five pounds was her weekly salary and a quarterly train ticket was 13 pounds. The trains didn’t have a corridor to walk from one cabin to the next back then and they were so packed that the young men jumped into the luggage nets and let their legs dangle down.
When we meet we talk about very personal things too, as friends do. I was asked once if I see Stella as a grandmother, but I don’t, she is my friend and I can talk to her about most things, things I don’t think I’d share with my grandmother if I still had one.
A lot has happened over the past months we’ve experienced together. Stella, who’s in quite a bit of pain when she walks due to her arthritis, had an idea to get an electric scooter and learn how to ride it at the age of 93 to become more mobile again.
She followed through with her plan and started scootering around Kemp Town where she’s been living for many years. This way she got to meet locals again who hadn’t seen her for a while since walking had become so painful for her a couple of years ago.
Meeting Stella has been so inspiring for me. I’ve learnt a lot from her and my life has certainly changed for the better since the day I met her. I can now even make butterfly cakes which she shared the recipe for! I’ve also had the opportunity, on more than one occasion to ride on the Victorian lift in Kemptown that I’d known absolutely nothing about until Stella told me to check it out.
She is just great, I’m so grateful that she’s my friend.
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