School boy, 10, sparks up friendship with veteran, 90, at Blairgowrie care home

Kian and Roy
Kian and Roy

A pair of friends have spanned an eight-decade age gap at a Tayside care home.

10-year-old Kian Donnelly from St Stephen’s RC Primary school and 90-year-old pensioner Roy Melville struck up the unlikely friendship at Beech Manor Care Home in Blairgowrie a year ago.

Army veteran Roy, who has no children or grandchildren of his own, enjoys the weekly visits of his younger friend, during which they play drafts and Roy teaches Kian new skills like knitting and gardening.

Kian returns the favour by teaching Roy how to use an iPad and entertains him by playing the piano and the violin.

The friends have also started a project together and are knitting hats for premature babies in the local hospital.

Friends Kian and Roy play drafts

Roy and his wife Janet moved into the care home one year ago after Janet had a stroke and could not care for her husband anymore.

Roy said: “In Kian I’ve found a great friendship that really means a lot – although he’ll never beat me at drafts, he’s learning fast.

“School for Kian is much, much different to my days and it’s great to be able to share some of the things I’ve learned.

“It was never the plan to move to a care home but when Janet had a stroke we ended up here and we settled in straight away.

“It’s been great to meet Kian through life at the home and I look forward to our meetings every week.”

Kian can often be found pushing Roy around the care home’s gardens in Roy’s wheelchair as the pair talk about different aspects of their lives.

Kian said: “When I first met Roy he was out in the garden every day, I started to help him if he couldn’t reach a flower bed or he needed a weed pulled out, and we’ve been friends ever since.

Kian and Roy out in the garden

“Even though we met through visits set up by the school, I’ll definitely continue to come and spend time with Roy when I leave primary school.

“I really look forward to our games of drafts and whenever I have any issues or worries, Roy can more often than not help me out.”

The pair are sharing the story of their friendship to inspire people during  this, Loneliness Awareness Week.

Sheila Baxter, activities co-ordinator at Renaissance Care’s Beech Manor Care Home, said: “During Loneliness Awareness Week, it’s really important that we are highlighting the special kind of friendships that for a lot of our residents, can be the difference of no visitors to someone to look forward to seeing each week.

“There may be an 80-year age difference between Roy and Kian but we’ve seen them bond over many different things to grow a great friendship that will outlive the programme we have with the local schools.”