I recog­nised the voice and thought it was some­one pulling my leg but it re­ally was Es­ther Rantzen...and I nearly fell off my chair

Widow tells of sur­prise af­ter broad­caster calls out of the blue

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - OPINION - By Sally Mcdon­ald [email protected]

W‘

hen the phone rang at Mar­garet Lav­er­ick’s shel­tered hous­ing cot­tage, the voice on the line sounded fa­mil­iar.

The house­bound 87-year-old widow had joined Es­ther Rantzen’s char­ity The Sil­ver Line but hardly ex­pected one of Bri­tain’s best-known broad­cast­ers to call in per­son.

But Mar­garet an­swered the call at her home in the Bor­ders to find the for­mer That’s Life star on the line.

The can­did con­ver­sa­tion she shared with the cam­paign­ing broad­caster was fol­lowed by oth­ers and has sparked a firm friend­ship. And now the pair plan to meet face to face for the first time in the New Year. Mel­rose-based Mar­garet – who is help­ing The Sil­ver Line mark its fifth birth­day with a fundrais­ing ap­peal, said: “When I got the call from Dame Es­ther Rantzen I nearly fell off my chair. I thought some­one was pulling my leg, but as she con­tin­ued to speak I re­alised it was re­ally her. I couldn’t get over it. I thought why would she bother with me?”

The rea­son is clear to Dame Es­ther. Mar­garet Mar­garet’s

– who suf­fers sto­icism

from and courage ago­ra­pho­bia and is afraid to is a real

leave her home in­spi­ra­tion – had for six

years de­vot­edly nursed her de­men­tia suf­ferer hus­band Bill. When he trag­i­cally died in Septem­ber, Mar­garet was left to face her first Christ­mas with­out the man she mar­ried 64 years ago.

Her fam­ily live far from her. She does not want to worry them and she does not com­plain. But the weekly phone calls she en­joys with her Sil­ver

Line “friends” are her life­line.

Bub­bly Mar­garet said: “I’ve been get­ting calls through The Sil­ver Line for about four years. We speak twice a week, each time for an hour and we re­ally sup­port each other. We un­der­stand what we each have been go­ing through. We put the world to rights but we don’t grum­ble and com­plain. Noth­ing keeps me from my calls. They’re my life­line.”

Dame Es­ther said she phoned the pen­sioner af­ter re­ceiv­ing an elo­quent let­ter of thanks from her.

The broad­caster ex­plained: “Mar­garet wrote to The Sil­ver Line say­ing what a dif­fer­ence it was mak­ing to her life.

“In her let­ter she wrote: ‘We oldies do still have lots to of­fer. At this stage in life it can be lonely. At times we seem to be re­garded as sec­ond rate, a bit of a nui­sance.’ “I thought that so summed-up how older peo­ple feel about be­ing dis­carded by so­ci­ety.” Dame Es­ther added: “I asked her what her dream was when she was young and she said to be a bal­let dancer. And then I asked her what her dream was now and she said ‘To go to bed and die peace­fully in my sleep.’ “It’s hor­rific that some­body who has been so stal­wart and looked af­ter her hus­band for six years should have noth­ing in her life to look for­ward to.

“I find her de­ter­mi­na­tion, her sto­icism and courage an in­spi­ra­tion. I wish I could live up to her ex­am­ple. Mar­garet proves that The Sil­ver Line trans­forms lives. It just makes me all the more de­ter­mined to try to make sure it is there for good.”

Mar­garet Lav­er­ick, at home in the Bor­ders last week, left, and on her wed­ding day with late hus­band BillText GIVE to 70660 make a reg­u­lar do­na­tion of £3 a month OR SIL­VER to 70660 to make a £10 do­na­tion.

Es­ther Rantzen

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