A care home resident has been granted a ‘magic moment’ and was reunited with her best friends of 33 years after a long four-year stint of not being able to see each other.

Ann, an 84-year-old widow and resident of Weald Hall Care Home in Epping, was surprised with a secret getaway from Essex to Norwich to see her friends of more than three decades.

Ann, Bernie, Mick and Sheila, all in their 80s, met as neighbours but quickly became friends. The group hadn’t seen each other since Christmas 2019 and had planned to meet up for Mick and Sheila’s 60th wedding anniversary in 2020 but sadly Bernie became unwell and the couple were unable to attend. 

Due to COVID-19 lockdowns and Mick and Sheila moving to Norwich, the group had been unable to enjoy each other’s company, and then Bernie sadly passed away in January 2021. 

Ann was living with undiagnosed early onset dementia and was cared for at home by Bernie before moving into Weald Hall just under a month after his death. 

The care team at Weald Hall decided to surprise Ann and take her to see Sheila and Mick in Norwich. When reunited, the trio spent their time looking at old photographs and reminiscing about the time they’d spent together over the last three decades.

For Ann, Bernie, Mick and Sheila, friendship came easily and naturally. The quartet first met when Mick and Sheila moved in next door and were greeted by Ann, who offered them a cup of tea and a friendly welcome to the neighbourhood. 

From that point on they were the best of friends, even sharing holidays both abroad and in the UK. Mick recalled him and Sheila getting into the car to head off for a week-long holiday in Cornwall, and when Ann asked where they were going, she and Bernie got ready and hopped into the car with them. The friendship between the group was so strong that they instantly found themselves making all sorts of memories together.

After years of weekly catch-ups over the phone and finally seeing her best friends, Ann said:

“I have had the most wonderful day, and honestly feel like I have a new lease of life!”

Danielle Barham, care home manager at Weald Hall Care Home said: “It’s always a pleasure to go the extra mile for our residents, especially those who have been through a lot and are missing their old friends. 

“It’s part of what our lifestyle team is focussed on, enriching our resident’s lives with events and activities that they love. We’re honoured to have been able to bring a smile to Ann’s face and hope she can continue to make many more happy memories with us here at Weald Hall. “