After starting life alone as an orphan, Margaret Stoker faced the prospect of spending her twilight years on her own as well when her husband died in a road accident.
Margaret was in her mid 70s when she lost her husband Ted to a heart attack following the car crash on the A69 eight years ago – and found herself all alone in the world once again.
But now, after signing up for a community day centre near her Northumberland home, the 84-year-old widow has found a cherished lifeline.
Margaret is so grateful for the companionship and enjoyment which she has discovered at the Age UK Northumberland day service in Blyth that she has promised to leave half of her estate to the charity when she passes away.
Margaret, who has lived in Bedlington for the last 17 years, grew up in Earsdon Orphanage and had to work for her keep. It was not until she met and married Ted Stoker at the age of 25 that she had any relatives.
Sadly, the couple were unable to have any children and all of Ted’s relatives passed away, most recently his twin brother who lost a battle with cancer.
Five years ago, Margaret heard about the Isabella Day Centre in Blyth and has been going there at least three times a week since then.
Once a week, she also has some home help with her vacuuming, housework and shopping.
She said: “When Ted and I moved back to the North East, after working in South Wales, we looked after each other here, until I lost him to a heart attack at the scene of a car crash on the A69.
“I survived, but was on my own apart from my friend, Diane Malarky, who has looked out for me for nearly 17 years now.
“When I heard about the Age UK day centre in Blyth, and that they would pick me up and take me home, I thought why not? I love it here.
“These people are my friends and my family, and give me lots of love and care. The carers are just fabulous.
“I really enjoy the exercise we do to music and the brain challenges. Lunch is always lovely. This place keeps me young and really is my lifeline.
“When it’s my time, I will be leaving half of my will to Age UK Northumberland, and the other half to the Great North Air Ambulance. They are both amazing charities and make huge differences to people’s lives.”
The Blyth day centre, which is managed by Julie Kelly, is open four days a week from 10am to 2.30pm. Transport is provided from Ashington, Bedlington, Cramlington, Seaton Delaval, Seaton Sluice and Blyth.
Julie said: “Margaret is a valued service user who attends regularly, and has been for a number of years. She loves our sessions, tea parties, themed days, our odd trip out, and seeing all her friends here, who she regards as her family.”
More information on how to book a place, volunteer or donate is available by calling Age UK Northumberland on 0845 140 0088.