Carole and Iris – friendship and support during the pandemic

Carole completing her skydive.

Carole’s journey with Deafblind UK started at the beginning of the pandemic, when she was inspired to volunteer and help others through the uncertain time we all faced. Due to her background working at an opticians, Deafblind UK felt like the perfect fit and Carole became one of our phone befrienders in March 2020.

Carole was paired with Deafblind UK member, Iris. Iris, who was 93, had macular degeneration and hearing loss – but the pair quickly formed a strong friendship. “Iris was an amazing lady. I knew from our first phone call that we would become friends,” Carole remembers.

Iris lived in Worcestershire with her daughter, while Carole is from Northern Ireland. The distance didn’t stop their friendship growing during the pandemic, with regular phone calls once or twice a week. “We talked a lot about our families – Iris had an ever-growing extended family, and she was very proud of all her children, grand-children and great-grandchildren,” says Carole.

“Iris was very caring and would always ask after my family. She even sent birthday cards to my husband and son. That’s just the kind of caring person she was,” Carole continues.

Like many people during the pandemic, Carole was made redundant from her job – and Iris was there to provide support and advice. “Iris was there for me, giving me words of wisdom to help me through it. Our roles were reversed, and she was guiding me!”

Iris often talked about Deafblind UK and the support she received. Although Iris suffered from ill health, she attended Deafblind UK’s community groups when she was well enough and spoke highly of them. So, when Carole saw a post about skydiving to raise money for Deafblind UK, she jumped at the chance to give it a try and help support these vital services. “A skydive was something I always wanted to do and here was my chance and to support Iris and others like her.”

The day was all set for July 2021… but the Northern Irish weather intervened, and Carole’s jump had to be postponed! In fact, the weather would rather get in the way and the jump had to be rescheduled 14 times before the conditions were right. Thankfully, Carole took all the delays in her stride and was able to finally complete her skydive on a fine day in March 2022. “It was an amazing experience, and the instructors really put me at ease,” says Carole.

Very sadly, Iris passed away in July 2021, at the age of 94, just before Carole’s skydive had been due to take place. “Iris was a very strong lady. She was a real tonic and I always looked forward to our phone call. The skydive was a very emotional day for me, because it brought back all these memories of Iris.”

“To anyone thinking about volunteering with Deafblind UK, I would highly recommend it,” says Carole. “For me, it has been a very rewarding way of meeting people and helping others. And it gave me a chance to meet Iris, a lady I was proud to call my friend.”

If you are interested in volunteering or fundraising for Deafblind UK, please find out more on our volunteering page: https://deafblind.org.uk/get-involved/

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