BBC Breakfast viewers were on an emotional roller coaster when it showed an elderly man being surprised with a Christmas tree and carol performance after spending the last 20 years alone on Christmas.
78-year-old Terrence was shown being interviewed by presenter Dan Walker on the loneliness he has been experiencing for the last many years.
The following day, Walker visited Terrence at his home in Oldham, Greater Manchester, to not only listen to his story but to also deliver some festive surprises.
Terrence said that 2019 will be the first year in two decades that would have company on Christmas Day, as he would spend the day with a good friend he met through his charitable work with Age UK, a 90-year-old woman called Nancy who suffers from dementia.
Terrence told Walker that he would visit his mother’s house on 25 December, taking along a cooked meal and presents that he would wrap up in parcels and place in a pillowcase.
He said, “One day, I’ll never forget her saying to me, ‘Without you bringing me my presents for Christmas I wouldn’t have any presents, would I?’ And I often think about that now. You know, people on their own now don’t get any presents from people,” Terrence said.
He said he is looking forward to spending Christmas with Nancy as he has experience being in the company of people with dementia through his work with Age UK.
“I always think with anything, unless you’ve actually been there, you don’t know what it’s like. I didn’t know what it was like to have depression until I got it,” the pensioner stated.
He told Walker that he does not have a Christmas tree, so Walker decided to do something about it with the help from students from the nearby Oldham College.
He got the students to get with them an ornately-decorated Christmas tree when they met Terrence. He immediately was overcome by emotion as he rose from his chair to thank the students and shake their hands.
The TV presenter comforted Terrence as he was overcome with gratitude and was crying and dabbing his eyes with a tissue. Then he asked Terrence what his favourite carol was, to which he answered “Silent Night.”
Then Walker opened the front door to reveal Oldham College’s choir, who performed an awesome rendition of the Christmas carol with Terrence standing still in his doorway in awe, wiping away his tears as Walker stood behind him.
Emotional Video: Students surprises pensioner who spent last 20 Christmases alone.
Twitter users were quick to express their feelings on this video, “This is just amazing… I’m on the train blubbering away,” tweeted Olympic-winning former hockey player Sam Quek.
“In absolute tears on the tube. What a beautiful man and truly fabulous thing to do,” another Twitter user wrote.
UK charity Age UK says that more than 200,000 elderly people would be spending Christmas alone this year. It said more than three-quarters of people over the age of 65 believe the first Christmas after losing someone you love is the hardest, with up to 170,000 older people soon to face their first Christmas without their spouse.
“Getting older brings new challenges – receiving a life-threatening diagnosis like dementia, losing the person who’s been your rock your whole life or struggling to manage the stairs in the only place that feels like home,” said Age UK ambassador Dame Helen Mirren. “To make matters worse, so many who are struggling have nobody to help them.”
Let us reach out to the elderly and the homeless in our community during Christmas and invite atleast one person for lunch or dinner during the festive season to our homes and share the love of Christ with them.