VIDEO: Sheffield widow’s birthday appeal helps to highlight plight of pensioners

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A heart-warming appeal to help a Sheffield pensioner get cards for her 100 birthday has helped highlight the plight facing many old folk across South Yorkshire.

More than 2,500 cards and gifts have been received for widow Winnie Blagden after an appeal was put on Facebook for her 100th birthday.

BBC Radio Sheffield reporter Kat Harbourne launched a campaign to make sure Winnie Blagden, who lives alone and has no children, has cards to open on her 100th birthday. BBC Radio Sheffield has been overwhelmed with cards. Kat is pictured with postman Ryan Hill.

BBC Radio Sheffield reporter Kat Harbourne launched a campaign to make sure Winnie Blagden, who lives alone and has no children, has cards to open on her 100th birthday. BBC Radio Sheffield has been overwhelmed with cards. Kat is pictured with postman Ryan Hill.

The 99-year-old lives alone and has few remaining friends so bosses at Serenta HomeCare, which helps her live independently in Sheffield, wanted to make her birthday extra special.

They wanted to arrange a tour around BBC Radio Sheffield, but when reporter Kat Harbourne heard about Winnie, she went one better.

The appeal has now gone viral across the world and the original Facebook post has been seen by more than five million people.

Kat said the response has been ‘incredible’ and has helped to show what communities can do to help elderly people like Winnie.

Winnie Blagden with BBC Radio Sheffield presenter Toby Foster and Look North presenter Ian White

Winnie Blagden with BBC Radio Sheffield presenter Toby Foster and Look North presenter Ian White

She said: “The idea was born to get her a few more birthday cards but little did we know that our appeal – which we thought our listeners and your readers might see – has now gone national and international. It has gone worldwide, it’s just incredible.

“I think what has really touched people is the fact that people aren’t just sending cards, they are writing messages and it’s not just about Winnie.

“There is probably a Winnie on every street across South Yorkshire and in every town and I think it’s really highlighted the fact that as a community we can do more for our older people that live locally.

“If you’ve got an elderly neighbour you can pop in and have a cup of tea with and just brighten up their day.

“I think it’s amazing – the outpouring of love and affection for Winnie but also older people in our communities and also, alongside that, the amazing work that care professionals and carers do for people in our society.

“They do such a difficult job. They work so hard yet they are out of sight, in and out of people’s homes, making cups of tea, they are a friendly shoulder to cry on and they are somebody to talk to.

“So I think what I am really, really pleased about is that it has told people across the world that we have got amazing people working in South Yorkshire for people that are just on our streets.”

n BBC Radio Sheffield has been inundated with presents and is urging people to only to send cards to BBC Radio Sheffield, 54 Shoreham Street, Sheffield, S1 4RS.

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