Irene, 81, gets family for Christmas
MANY families welcome a new pet for Christmas but a mother-of-four has “adopted” a grandmother who has been on her own for 10 years.
Taylor-Danielle Pearson, 27, decided her family would do something different for the festive season and help beat loneliness among older people.
After volunteering to help elderly people, Taylor-Danielle hit it off with widow Irene Smith, 81 – and has welcomed her into their home as their “adopted nan” and one of the family.
The Pearsons are hiring a village hall so Irene can invite more of her friends who might otherwise be alone, to join a family Christmas dinner.
Irene pops into the family’s Bristol home most days for a friendly cup of tea and a catch-up.
Taylor-Danielle and her husband Michael, 29, have taught children – Lexi, 11, Harley, seven, Sienna, five and Amelia, three – Christmas is not just about presents, and now they have the gift of a new “grandparent”.
She said: “Irene was missing the family environment when we first met at my south Bristol volunteering group for the elderly and I knew straight away that I wanted to adopt her into our family. I took her to appointments and we got chatting.
“She met the kids when I hosted a tea party and something just clicked... she felt like one of the family.”
Taylor-Danielle stressed it was “so
important” that elderly people were not forgotten, adding: “Last year when she came around for Christmas dinner, she cried. I used to be so close to my own nan and Irene is all alone most of the time. This year, I want to make it that extra special for her.”
A delighted Irene said: “Last year was wonderful. The kids waited to open their presents with me. Now I’m
actually looking forward to Christmas. I feel like part of the family, with the kids being so affectionate. This year we’re having a party with more of my friends coming – I’m very excited.
“Christmas used to be such a lonely time for me and difficult without my husband.”
Taylor-Danielle said: “We've been so fortunate in the relationship we’ve
found with Irene and we want to extend that to others. ”
A spokesperson for the Campaign to End Loneliness said: “It’s really, really positive to see a family actually taking action, bringing someone in and giving them that time.
“What people need to understand is that if you’re someone who has been experiencing loneliness, the smallest
gesture can make a difference. We would call upon everyone in the country to do something for an older person this year.
“Pick up the phone, call your older relatives – ten minutes is all that it takes.”
Age UK’s Caroline Abrahams said: “There is something we can all do to make a positive difference to the older people around us.
“Having a friendly chat with an older person on the bus or in a shop, or offering to help an elderly neighbour with their shopping if the weather is bad, can do more good than most of us would ever guess, and at very little cost to ourselves.”
Janet Morrison of Independent Age said: “It’s lovely to hear about people going that extra mile to make Christmas special for older people.”
Irene with Pearson children Sienna, Harley, Amelia and Lexi. Far left, the family celebrating Christmas