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21st Apr 2020

A letter from a 93-year-old man to the carers who look after him


“They are friends in need. Friends, indeed”

While the nation is rightly applauding NHS front line workers, Bob Skinner, a 93-year-old former journalist, sits in his care home. Bob, who began working in journalism in the 1940s and reckons he’s written almost every day of his life, keeps a diary.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Bob’s diary has taken on a greater significance – a means to document the current crisis in which we find ourselves for posterity, and for his great-grandchildren. We spoke to Bob about his life in Sunrise of Cardiff care home, his lifelong love of writing and how – in some ways – the coronavirus outbreak is even more frightening than Britain during the Second World War.

Bob also reads us an entry from his diary in which he expresses his immense gratitude to the carers who keep him safe and entertain him on a daily basis, and help make his life a joy to live at the age of 93.

Read the full letter below:

 30th March 2020

No sad sorrowful statistics today. No comment on the good, the bad and the ugly in this upside-down world of 2020. Just some thoughts on the women and men who are looking after the ‘vulnerable’ – the carers.

The applause that echoed through the land was a uniquely expressed tribute to the scores of thousands in our health services. They all deserve every clap in that simple, spontaneous act of recognition and gratitude. The carers deserve the same.

In our own homes and nursing and residential homes they are a lifeline. They offer comfort and reassurance. They love their work and it shows.

I am probably one of the luckiest, most privileged of the vulnerable. At 93, I still have an interesting, comfortable life, thanks to carers. A relief to my family.

Rosemary, my wife and I had lived happily for more than twenty years in our seaside flat in Penarth and were carrying on, sustained by the help of our carers. It was just an hour, three times a day, but it made all the difference. We could stay in our home, safe and comfortable.

That changed after two years, with the death of Rosemary and our daughter Beverley. Rosemary, who had been losing her sight for some years, fell in our bathroom, dying in hospital 10 days later. Beverley, in her mid-sixties, who had bravely struggled to recover after being in hospital, paralysed for months, died of a heart attack in her home. After sixty-six years marriage, I was alone, facing a new uncertain life.

Instead, I am one of the luckiest, most privileged of the vulnerable, living in a new home, Sunrise of Cardiff. I have new carers who have transformed my life and health. They too have families and the worries of the lockdown. Yet to all of us, from the oldest at 103, to the youngest in their 80s, they have to show their dedications 24 hours a day, smiling and efficient.

They give us our medication, chat to us, keep us safe and entertain us. They are friends in need. Friends, indeed.