It wasn’t the big celebration her family had hoped for – but when Mrs Gladys King turned 100 last week, Ealing Community Transport made sure that her daughter could be with her for the special day.
Your mum’s 100th birthday party isn’t an occasion that anybody would want to miss.
But as we all know from the past three months in ‘lockdown’, making visits even to one’s closest family has become a major challenge, especially for those who are vulnerable and shielding from the coronavirus.
For Mrs Doreen Kilday, an only child, not being able to see her mother on such a special day was a heart-breaking prospect.
But even when restrictions were eased in early June, getting to her mother’s birthday celebration seemed an impossible task, since she and husband Joseph have no car and – both over 70 themselves – were fearful of using public transport.
Then one of Mrs Kilday’s friends suggested Ealing Community Transport (ECT), the local charity she had been using to get to her hospital appointments, so Mrs Kilday got on the phone to the ECT office in Greenford to see if they could help.
Within hours ECT had booked in the short trip from Mrs Kilday’s home in Hanwell to Elm Lodge care home in Greenford, where her mother, Mrs Gladys King, has lived for the past eight years – and mother and daughter were set for an emotional reunion, albeit a socially distanced one.
“We used to go to see her two or three times a week but we have been self-isolating since the lockdown began,” said Mrs Kilday. “It was the first time we had seen her for two months – she was very happy and I was happy as well.
“She had a card from the Queen, which I was allowed to open! We also handed her cards from relatives and my daughter made a collage with pictures of the great-grandchildren. We sat in the garden and the staff at the care home brought her down to us. It wasn’t what we had planned – but it was wonderful.”
Mrs Kilday said the staff at Elm Lodge were “brilliant” in organising the ‘distanced’ birthday celebrations, and the transport from ECT was “unbelievable”. “Sharon in the office arranged it all, and they came in the little green minibus and picked us up – everything worked perfectly. The driver was so nice and said he would wait in the car park while we were visiting and then drive us back home. It made such a big difference to us feeling safe to travel, and we were over the moon to be able to visit. We are so thankful.”
Minibus driver Atif Mughal said Mrs Kilday had not known about all the services that ECT could provide. “She was very grateful for the service and also amazed we would wait for her,” he said.
Sharon Renner, who organises the bookings at ECT’s operation in Greenford Depot, said: “It’s just nice that we can help out with someone so they are able to see their mum in times like this.”
ECT Chief Executive Anna Whitty MBE commented: “Many people in our communities don’t realise how we might be able to help them; those who contact us are often worried about issues such as affordability or the flexibility of the service. But as a charity our aim is to make journeys possible for people whatever their circumstances, and to go the extra mile to ensure that our services make a real difference for the people who use them.”
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