A SALTBURN care home resident has rekindled her connection with a rescue and rehoming centre for dogs after a chance encounter with a Teesside schoolboy.
Judith Pearson, 78, joined the organising committee for Maxi’s Mates Rescue and Rehoming Centre over a decade ago, back in November 2012.
Before moving to Hazelgrove Court Care Home, in Saltburn, in 2021, Judith could no longer volunteer at the centre, where she also used to walk the rescue dogs.
However, a coincidental encounter with another Maxi’s Mates volunteer, 14-year-old Charlie Main, who attends Rye Hills Academy, in Redcar, gave Judith an idea of how to support the centre again.
She launched an appeal for donations of blankets, toys, food, and other supplies. The care home was inundated with donations, which have since been delivered to Maxi’s Mates, in Dunsdale.
Judith and Charlie have also kept in touch, after being paired together by Crafting Connections, which is run by national charity The Together Project.
The charity pairs school children with elderly care home residents to reduce loneliness, boost wellbeing, foster community connections, and create intergenerational experiences.
Charlie began by writing to Judith and sending artworks, as well as photos of him volunteering at Maxi’s Mates, when the pair realised their shared connection with the dog centre.
Charlie previously won a Blue Peter badge for his work with hedgehogs and has been volunteering at Maxi’s Mates for over two years.
Since then, Charlie has visited Judith at Hazelgrove Court Care Home, and Judith has gone to see Charlie at Maxi’s Mates when he’s there with his mother, Sarah-Jane, on Sundays.
Judith said: “It is wonderful that Charlie and I share this interest in Maxi’s Mates. It is great to see that a teenager is doing volunteering work, especially with something so close to my heart. If it was not for Crafting Connections we would never have met.
“It was great to reconnect with Maxi’s Mates and it was wonderful they still remembered me from when I was on the committee. The work they do rehoming all the dogs is outstanding.”
Charlie’s mum, Sarah-Jane said: “We took part in Crafting Connections as we saw firsthand how lonely it can be in a care home after my nana (Charlie’s great nana) was taken in one day during lockdown.
“It was especially tough when the homes were put on lockdown and visitors were not allowed.
“We thought it would be nice to make another elderly resident smile and we were really surprised to find out Judith lived so close and had Maxi’s Mates in common with Charlie.”
Sharon Lewis, activities coordinator at Hazelgrove Court Care Home, said: “What a wonderful morning Judith had at Maxi’s Mates with Charlie and Sarah.
“Some of the staff at the centre remembered Judith and how she helped with the paperwork setting it up. Charlie bought Judith flowers and we met all the dogs.
“It’s wonderful that Crafting Connections friendships can be made between people of different generations.”
Louise Goulden, CEO and founder of The Together Project, said: “It’s such a delight to watch friendships blossom that have been formed through Crafting Connections.
“I love the fact Judith and Charlie have bonded over their shared love of dogs. This project shows time and time again that, though people may be generations apart, we have more in common than that which divides us.”