For two and a half years, Gold Award participant Lauren, from New Zealand, has been reading to Shirley Macdonald who is blind. She would visit Shirley at her retirement village every Saturday. While it started as Voluntary Service for her Gold Award, the pair have formed a strong friendship. “Reading to Shirley has been an amazing part of my life,” Lauren said.

When they were forced apart by lockdown, the pair were worried that they wouldn’t be able to continue spending time together. However, they quickly found a way to keep up the connection. A book was dropped off to Lauren from Shirley’s collection, then Lauren would read to Shirley every Saturday morning over the phone. “It was one of my brighter times during lockdown”, says Shirley.

Lauren from New Zealand reading a book to Shirley

The pair spend half an hour on the phone each Saturday. It is so important to them both, Shirley has told her friends and relatives not to ring or visit in that time as she is busy.

Shirley does have audiobooks she can listen to however she said the books Lauren reads, many of which are biographies of influential New Zealanders, allowed her to reminisce on the times when she was younger.

Lauren and Shirley’s wonderful story of lasting friendship was even featured in the New Zealand Herald. You can read the full article here.