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Struggling families to benefit from astonishing support for 101-year-old John Lister

The astonishing outpouring of kindness to 101-year-old John Lister has given a boost not just to him but also to dozens of struggling families.

The Normandy veteran, who is a resident at Thorp House nursing home, in Griston, near Watton, has been overwhelmed by thousands of letters and cards and hundreds of gifts from all over the world.

They have been arriving each day in dozens of Royal Mail boxes since his interviews on BBC Breakfast and ITV Anglia when he spoke of his sadness at facing Christmas without Ella, his wife of 70 years, who died of Covid in the first wave of the pandemic.

Mr Lister, who will sadly be spending the New Year in hospital but is said to be doing well, wanted some of the gifts, such as chocolates and biscuits, to go to struggling families in Watton and surrounding parishes.

They were handed over to The Rev Gerry Foster, of St Mary’s Church, Watton, pictured with parishioner Sophie Barnard and her son Matthew, four.

The gifts were distributed through the Holiday Kitchen which has helped struggling families through the pandemic.

Mr Lister said: “I feel so appreciative to everyone who has written to me. I still miss Ella but I know I am not alone with my family and all these people supporting me."

Thorp House wellbeing coordinator Marcia Hughes said: “There are still more than 6,000 cards to open. As well as all over the UK, they have come from countries as far afield as the Philippines, Brazil, Tanzania and Gibralter.

“People to have got in touch include serving and retired veterans, a UN worker in Amman, Jordan, Sir Richard Branson, BBC’s Dan Walker, EastEnders actor Emma Barton, who plays Honey Mitchell and the Bishop of Norwich.”

Gifts include everything from chocolate, biscuits and cakes to wine, whisky and books.

A newborn baby footprint card has come from a woman in Plymouth who has struggled during lockdown. 

Mrs Hughes said: “There has been an outpouring of emotions from the public, young and old, of grief, loss, fear, love and hope.

“John has been the main focus for this but what has become clear is that he has given people a place to pour out their hearts of their own loss and struggles.

“I had a message from the founder of postcards of kindness; she is thrilled that over 5000 new members are now all writing to the elderly in care homes.”

Find out more about Thorp House

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