A highlight of John Corchran’s week is his get-together with volunteer befriender Aileen Birch.

It might only last a few hours, but it represents a fast-growing friendship that has come together due to a match on the Helpline.

At 86-years-old John was reliant for company on visits from carers, which broke up his days, but he was still lonely and just needed someone to have a good chat to and share some of his many stories.

Aileen pops into his Foxhole home on a Thursday and the two of them often go off to Asda where a shop can take up to an hour and a half with John chatting his way around the aisles.

“I look forward to Aileen’s visits so much. The visits are everything. I am lonely and even though I manage to cope on my own, it gives me something to look forward to,” he enthused.

“I am getting to know her and I think we are becoming friends. Once I knew that she originally came from the Midlands like me, there was no turning back. I love a chat and luckily she is a good listener and gets my sense of humour,” he added with his trademark cheeky grin.

They often grab a bite of lunch together and are looking forward to planning outings in the Summer to the seafront to drink coffee and ‘watch the world go by.’

Aileen, 68, retired three years ago from her long-standing role with the energy company EDF where she helped older and often vulnerable clients overcome difficulties, so she is no newcomer to lending a listening ear.

And she, too, looks forward to their time together. “He is quite a character and loves to talk, so much so I often lose him in the supermarket only to find him later deep in conversation with someone else,” she said. “He makes me laugh, I enjoy our time together,” she added.