NHS worker Paul Hurrell stepped up to help out when we appealed for volunteers to support older people during December last year.

Paul got on so well with his new call companion that he has maintained the link and now has regular conversations with two older people. He explained: “Both of them structure their weeks around the calls, we all get a great deal from them.” said Paul, a father of three who has a smallholding in the Dartmoor National Park.

“One of the ladies I call has no family and is seriously ill but despite that we spend a lot of time gossiping and laughing. It’s always fulfilling and puts everything into perspective. Everyday matters seem petty when you have the complex situations some older people have to deal with.

“I have always had an interest in people, in communities and social values. After all, it’s all about the person.

“I grew up in a multi-generational family - my grandparents lived with us - and I involve my parents in the family. Older people have so much to offer, they are knowledgeable, funny and good counsel. It’s a hugely rich experience to share their company.”

Paul, 51 keeps pigs, goats and chickens on his smallholding. He has also built seven bee hives and planted 1,800 trees on his land. In his spare time, he and wife Hannah don life-size puppet costumes and put on shows about fantasy characters and pirates at community events as well as visiting schools. They even design and make their own costumes.

Paul, who has worked in NHS procurement for 15 years, added: “I love engaging with people and call companions provides a perfect opportunity to do just that - and help someone who is lonely at the same time.”

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