A lucky Saltash man has donated to a Plymouth charity which has helped “change” his life.
Frank Beard won on the National Lottery in the summer and scooped the Set for Life prize, which is a fabulous £10,000 a month for a whole year.
The 68-year-old, who has underlying health issues and had to self-isolate for nine weeks during the pandemic, has been attending Elder Tree sessions, which is a be-friending service which helps those over 50 who are lonely and isolated.
The charity has had to work even harder this year, as many have found themselves living alone and unable to meet loved ones face-to-face due to the coronavirus restrictions in place.
Over the festive season it’s even more important to stay connected, which is why PlymouthLive launched its Christmas campaign, Plymouth Cares.
Mr Beard, who originally thought he’d won £1,00 a month for a year, said that Elder Tree has helped to get him out of the house and gives him something “to look forward to” every week.
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Frank said: “Elder Tree has helped change my life, getting me out not only to exercise but meeting up with others and giving me something to look forward to each week.
“I’m really grateful to be active again.”
After scooping the prize, he donated some of his winnings to the vital service.
He said: ““The staff in the store thought I had won £1,000 a month, which would have done me nicely, but when I rang Camelot and realised it was £10,000 a month, I was doubly delighted. It still hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
Frank also plans on splashing out on laser eye and body-enhancing surgery, since dropping the three and a half stone he gained after heart surgery in 2010.
He said: “I have problems in my legs when I walk because of arthritis, so the weight has been creeping on. I’ve tackled it with a much more sensible diet and am thrilled to have lost weight.
“The final step is to just tighten up some of the skin on my body after losing the weight.
“As well as surgery, I would love to fly to Australia to visit my niece, Diane, who has been there for 30-odd years. When travel restrictions are eased and we can travel again, I will start planning a dream trip.”
What is Elder Tree?
Since March, the charity which support Frank has delivered Zoom based activities, welfare checks and shopping requests to help keep its users connected and supported.
Elder Tree even delivered 4,600 hot meals in partnership with the Pie Club and since the lockdown was lifted, Elder Tree has reinstated 63 of its social inclusion activities across the city, including Walking Football, which Frank attends.
Robbie Nairn OBE, Chief Executive of Elder Tree, said: “Frank was one of the lucky few who won some money on the lottery and he decided that he wanted to make a donation to Elder Tree to thank them for supporting him through a particularly difficult time in his life.
“He has attended one of our men’s groups and he openly admits that this has changed his life. He met new friends, got off his backside and took part in physical activity and, most importantly, started to enjoy life again.”
The service works in partnership with Plymouth City Council, the statutory and voluntary sectors and friends and families “delivering an innovative and cutting edge preventative service” that alleviates loneliness and social isolation in those over 50.
It currently supports over 1650 beneficiaries with the help of 175 amazing volunteers delivering 92 social inclusion activities in 54 locations citywide.
It also supports 91 of the most socially isolated and housebound beneficiaries in their homes with a ‘volunteer befriender’.
The charity delivers an extremely wide range of weekly based activities including lunch and supper clubs, IT classes, social inclusion groups, craft groups, two brilliant dementia choirs and eight active men’s clubs.
Mr Nairn said: “Physical activity is a key component of what we do and 58 of our groups are either seated or standing and exercise based.
“Every week 900 of our beneficiaries exercise for at least an hour and all these activities are heavily biased to improving stability, strength and balance and ultimately ‘falls prevention’.
“Uniquely, the charity evaluates every beneficiary annually and draws on the results of this consultation to determine its direction of travel.”
Mr Nairn explained that the charity is also leading an “exciting initiative” with the CCG and Primary Care which targets housebound elderly people who are assessed against a locally revised ‘frailty framework’ and are referred to Elder Tree by their GP.
He said: “We are referred into service and receive on average 50 referrals a month through ourwWebsite which is the ‘front door’ that directly populates our shiny new CRM.”
You can learn more about Elder Tree, volunteering and making a referral, here.
What is Plymouth Cares?
We’re encouraging random acts of kindness, as well as raising funds for a number of worthy causes.
Each week, we will announce a new cause and share stories around loneliness, isolation and kindness as well as highlighting groups, events and organisations to help during these difficult times. You will be able to find them, here.
We aim to bring you heart-warming stories that will make you feel inspired as well as spreading festive cheer.
If you have a story to share, please get in touch at email@example.com.