Friendship spans the generations as Fareham pupils link with rest home

An 83-year age difference hasn’t stopped a friendship forming between a Second World War veteran and an 11 year-old school boy - the result of a project from a Fareham school.

Tuesday, 16th July 2019, 6:29 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 10:12 am
Children from St Columba Primary Academy in Fareham, have been visiting residents at The Fernes care home in Fareham. Pictured is: Andrew Barker-Foster (11) with resident Sylvia Hayes (94). Picture: Sarah Standing (160719-1300)

Year Six pupils from St Columba Church of England Primary Academy, in Tewkesbury Avenue, Fareham, have been visiting the Fernes Care Home over the last six weeks to take part in activities ranging from scarecrow making to vegetable planting. 

The visits have seen Andrew Barker Foster, 11, hit it off with Sylvia Hayes, 94, a former crew member of anti-aircraft artillery in Wexham during the Second World War.

Sylvia said: ‘I’ve been here just over a year, and it’s lovely to meet young men like Andrew.

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 It’s been lovely talking to him - I remember when he first came in he looked so smart in his school uniform.

‘He’s always telling me little jokes.’

Andrew said: ‘I’ve liked old people for a long time, because my granddad’s old - but he won’t tell me how old.

‘I’d like to have met Sylvia when she was my age.’

The visits are part of a growing trend that sees children and young people visiting care homes, as a way to fight the increasing segregation of different age groups. 

Research by the Intergenerational Foundation has found that only 5 per cent of older people in England live near someone under 18 years old - a reduction from 15 per cent 25 years ago. 

St Colomba headteacher Tracey Marsh said the lives of the residents are stories that could be ‘lost’ if younger people are not introduced to them. 

She said: ‘Their stories will be lost to history if we’re not careful.

‘This project is all about the hidden curriculum - about the way we behave and our values. 

‘Our values our love, respect, and hope, and we think this project embodies that.’ 

Activities Coordinator Rachel Anderson, said it wasn’t just the resident who benefited from the visits, with the pupils left  ‘mesmerised’ by their new friends.

She said: ‘We have a lady who is nearly 100 - the kids are mesmerised by her. 

Its just wonderful. 

‘I don’t think they can believe there was a time without iPads.’