Positive Paula makes a difference

After a career working for a regional broadcaster, a serious illness meant Paula Meagor's mobility has been impacted to the point where she's now been bedbound for four years. But her determination to help others led her to become a Re-engage call companion, and she makes twice-weekly calls to Val, who is in her 90s.

Paula contracted meningitis 15 years ago and then suffered serious back damage when doctors took a sample of spinal fluid. Her condition deteriorated to the point where she is effectively paralysed from the waist down.

“Despite everything I feel very lucky. Life could have been so much worse,” said Paula, 57, who lives in Torpoint, Cornwall. “My wonderful husband Tony looks after me and carers come in twice a day. We have a lovely daughter and grandchildren and live in an adapted bungalow in a beautiful part of the world. And very soon I’ll be getting a wheelchair.

“I also have a very strong faith and I get an awful lot from my Re-engage volunteering. Val is an absolute sweetheart and I don’t know what I’d do without her. It feels like she has been part of my life forever. She’s fiercely independent and walks to church every Sunday. I am extremely fond of her.

“I’ve never seen her but I suspect she’s always smart, insisting on doing her hair and make up before she goes out. When she got married her bridesmaids’ dresses were made by the Queen’s tailor, Normal Hartnell. One of them worked for him and so he helped with the outfits. Not many people can say that.”

Paula, who spent 10 years working for Carlton TV – now ITV -  joined Re-engage three years ago after finding out about us online. “My body had packed up and my mind was going to soup so I just knew I had to do something and call companions was just right for me. I call Val a couple of times a week and we just get on so well. We really gel.”

Before she lost her mobility Val had various roles at Carlton including stints in HR, the press office and newsroom.

“It was simply fantastic, magical,” she said. “No two days were ever the same. On one occasion there was a news piece about animal birthdays and I had to look after two Jaguar cubs which were brought into the studio. It was like dealing with two overgrown kittens. They were chewing everything but they were also absolutely adorable.

“Another time I had to arrange insurance for one of the presenters who was going to land a microlight plane on the back of a moving lorry. I got the insurance and he landed the plane safely but don’t ask me why he did it. I suppose it was just because he could!”

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