Wed, Apr 3, 2024 10:00 AM

A gift of hope from mystery man


Paula Hulburt

A pensioner struggling with depression is paying to tribute to a mystery man whose kindness helped save her life.

Shirley Eke, 83, moved to Blenheim with her cat, Stan, shortly before Christmas from Tūātapere in Southland.

She says she’s been struggling with loneliness and money issues, spending just $50 a week on groceries.

Already depressed and worried about money, Shirley says her eftpos card declining three times at the supermarket recently was almost the last straw.

“It bounced back three times, and I was so embarrassed. All I wanted to do was just leave.”

Leaving her groceries behind, Shirley went to ask staff at Countdown Springlands to call her a taxi when a man stepped forward and offered her a lift.

“He told me he was ‘quite safe,’ and took his hat off and bowed to the security camera…”

“He took me home, but I was still so depressed, I was tired all the time, that I just went to bed.

“Next thing I know there was a knock, knock on the door and there he was with my groceries, the ones I’d had to put back. He had paid for them.

“I cried; I was still feeling so emotional.”

This act of kindness gave her hope better days were ahead, Shirley says.

The man, whose name is Tim, then returned later with even more groceries and a colourful card.

“It was just so out of the blue,” Shirley says.

“He didn’t know how much better I felt because of what he’d done. It just shows there are some kind people in the world.

‘I just want to thank him; he gave me hope.”

Shirley says she gifted her mystery benefactor a walking stick from a collection which had belonged to her late partner.

“Tim and his wife, or partner, said they liked walking and biking, so I said to pick a stick.

“It made me feel so much better that they took one.

‘The whole thing has just given me such a lift and I couldn’t be more thankful for their kindness.”

Age Concern have been helping Shirley as a member since she arrived in Blenheim.

Community Welfare Coordinator Bobby Houlahan says an anonymous helping hand can have a big impact.

“We have had a lot to do with her and helped with the move to Blenheim as she doesn’t have family members here.

“She is a wonderful woman and we have loved getting to know her. When she rung me and told me the story, I thought it was wonderful, someone being so kind to our older population, especially in this time of hardship.

“It’s great to hear such a heartfelt, anonymous act of kindness. You never know the impact it will have on someone, such a simple choice to be kind.”

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