You might be forgiven for thinking that people in their 90s while away their days in their comfy armchair with a cup of tea. In Peggy Sumsion’s case, you’d be grossly mistaken. For although she does enjoy a good cup of tea, the 92 year old - who celebrated her birthday a couple of weeks ago - is an active pillar of her community, and member of Age UK Norfolk’s Telephone Befriending team, making regular telephone calls to lonely older people living in Norfolk.
Peggy, who was raised in London and moved to Norfolk in 1973 with her late husband, has been a member of the Age UK Norfolk Telephone Befriending team for several years and supports two older ladies, who without the crucial connection of telephone calls, might find themselves lonely and with little contact with the outside world.
Peggy recalled when she first found out about the Befriending service, after she saw Age UK Norfolk on BBC Look East, 'I saw them on the TV talking about making phone calls to lonely older people and I thought – I could do that. So the next day I set the wheels in motion.'
Five years later, Peggy is still making her calls, fiercely exclaiming that she 'still loves it!' and fondly talks of one gentleman who she used to call twice a week, ‘'we laughed! We had the same terrible sense of humour and would sometimes sing down the phone together'.
Peggy has experienced darker days, losing her first husband at just 44, and living in London throughout the war, where she remembers seeing the London Docks on fire from where she lived. Despite, or perhaps because of this, Peggy is a firm believer that 'life is too short' and that everyone should seize the day. 'It’s a time that was scary', she said, 'but Londoners have a lot of grit and we all helped each other.'
Peggy says she has no regrets, although she does wish that she’d learned to drive. But at 92, Peggy has found her own way of reaching out to people across Norfolk with her work as an Age UK Norfolk volunteer. When asked what she gets out of volunteering for the Befriending team, Peggy says, 'It helped me to realise that I’m still alive. I’m 92 and I’m still putting something back into life'.
Eamon McGrath, Community Development Manager said that 'Peggy always brightens the day of the team when she calls with her impish sense of humour and zest for life. We know that the people she calls on our behalf love the conversations that they have with her; one told me she always leaves me laughing.'
What would Peggy say to other people considering volunteering for Age UK Norfolk? 'Do it. I would 100% encourage other people to volunteer!'
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