Cyril Aggett, 86, had been struggling with the lack of company since the loss of his wife Shirley six years ago, something employees at Coombe Dean Secondary School in Plymouth noticed after not seeing him around for a while.
He mingles and chats with staff members and pupils alike, and says it has been a lifeline for him – particularly since he couldn’t face the pain of being by himself ever since Shirley’s funeral.
Cyril explained how he even gets a cup of tea with his lunch, stating: ‘Everybody talks to me, the office staff are brilliant.’ He described the experience as ‘mayhem’, but said he’d be ‘lost’ if he didn’t go down to the school throughout the week.
For a month after Shirley’s death, he couldn’t bring himself to leave the house. However, the school soon called to check whether he was okay and he hasn’t looked back since.
It can be very lonely [living alone], once you go inside that door. I come down here and see the children, a lot of them talk to me, there’s one young man that comes up and makes sure he talks to me.
I love the company and the noise. Once I go indoors and I close those doors down, there’s nothing.
A couple of months ago, I wasn’t really getting up until about 2pm in the afternoon, it was lovely weather and I couldn’t be bothered.
I think Shirley must have said ‘pull your socks up’ you know. Coming down here has brought me out of my shell again.
The school will soon take two weeks off for their Christmas break, but Cyril need not worry because the Coombe Dean lunch ladies make him extra batches of sausage rolls, pasties and apple crumble for him to eat during the school holidays.
He’s then able to freeze them at his home before returning to the school when it reopens in January.
‘I don’t think they should go on holiday actually,’ Cyril joked.
What a lovely story, and one Cyril shared as part of Plymouth Live’s Be A Friend campaign.