I’m 87 years old. I’m mother to five sons, and a grandmother eight times over. We’re a close family, but we’ve had our fair share of challenges.

The pandemic has been hard for those of us at home on our own. Fortunately, I have family close to me and they have been so good and have done all my shopping. Still, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve left the house since the pandemic.

But something that’s been a big part of my life is the local MHA scheme. It provides social contact and support for older people who wish to continue living at home without becoming isolated.

Our scheme ran trips to the theatre, meals out, vintage tea parties, an annual river boat trip and pantomimes at Christmas – there was always something going on. The regular thing was the lunch club. When you walked in, there was always a hubbub of everybody talking and hugging one another – people just loved being together.

I’ve had a variety of roles over the years, including in the kitchen, as a driver and a fundraiser and I have met some lovely people. MHA is a lifeline.

Since March, our group has had to change, but it still makes a big impact in people’s lives. We’ve telephoned each other and the coordinator often came and stood on the doorstep to say hello. And, although activities weren’t happening, we had happy memories.

There is a Bible verse which has always been my favourite. It’s from Hebrews and it says: “As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses round us. So then … let us run with determination the race that lies before us.”That’s the verse that I hold onto.

When the verse says ‘crowd of witnesses’ I think it means all the people who help us run the race of life. I think of the loved ones that have died. I think of my husband who died twenty years ago, I think of others I’ve lost – of my two friends who died this year.

But I also think of my family, and friends who are still alive. Last year I had a serious accident and needed to spend over five weeks in hospital – but that whole time there were only two days when I didn’t have a visitor. They’re also my crowd of witnesses, helping me get through.

And this year, keeping in touch with other people from the lunch club, helping one another through the pandemic – we are one another’s crowd of witnesses – each helping the other.

I’ve got such a crowd of witnesses and I’ve got God with me. So, no matter what race lies ahead, I shall run it with determination.

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