Lockdown penpal scheme leads to unlikely friendship between Bristol teenager and pensioner

  • Watch Ellie Barker's report.

Two unlikely pen pals from Bristol have been brought together during the lockdown and have been writing to each other for the past four months.

Despite the 73 year age gap, 87-year-old Mary Gorton and 14-year-old Eva Lane have been corresponding every couple of weeks.

Collier Gardens Extra Care housing in Fishponds, Bristol, put out an advert looking for volunteer penpals to cheer up its residents. Eva applied, and the pair have been writing to each other ever since.

Mary and Eva finally got to meet in person but had to respect social distancing. Credit: ITV West Country

Mary and Eva - who lives just a few miles away in St Werburghs - finally got to meet in the grounds of Collier Gardens and talk about their unlikely friendship. Eva says "I hoped to make a new friend but also I really enjoy making the letters". Mary was a bit worried it might not last. She says, "I was delighted to get her second letter because I thought telling her my age might put her off".

The letters talked about their lives in lockdown.

Facsimile of a ration book. Credit: PA

Inevitably the vast difference of their upbringings is a topic of conversation. At 14, Mary had lived through the war and had already left school. She worked in a nursery and used coupons to buy her clothes and treats.

Eva still has up to four years left at school. She lives in a world of social media and she can buy clothes with a click of a button. She says "It's so strange now, you can get clothes so cheaply and they don't really last".

The organisers are very pleased with their "perfect match".

Julie Walker, the Centre Manager at Colliers Gardens says, "I think it's gone on longer because they've got so much in common and I think that was a surprise to Mary.

"Mary just looks forward to receiving the letters".

Mary and Eva have forged a link, despite their 73 year age gap, thanks to becoming penpals during lockdown. Credit: ITV West Country

Mary describes the relationship as a 'big delight'. She says, "I think I did put in my last letter that it's just something really happy that's happened to me".

The lockdown friendship is likely to continue well into the future.