John Roy had one of those jobs.
As a props lorry driver for international blockbusters – such as Batman, the James Bond movies and The Da Vinci Code – he travelled the world. It was an adventurous and exciting life.
But then, in the space of just a few years, he was hit by a cruel double blow.
First, his beloved wife, Isabella, died. It hit John very hard – they had been married since 1961. As he put it: “I lost heart because we were together for a long, long time.”
Then in April this year, he suffered a freak bit of bad luck. Flying home from a visit to his son in Costa Rica, the Surrey man developed a blood clot. It gradually grew worse and eventually led to a right lower-leg amputation.
Stuck at home
John recalled: “I was just starting to get things together again after my wife’s death – going on holiday and stuff like that. And then: bang! Life hits you with another roll of the dice.”
After this horrific bolt from the blue, John found himself back at home. Stuck in a wheelchair. Waiting for a prosthetic leg. And wondering how on earth he was going to cope. (Both his children live far away.)
The hospital had let the British Red Cross’ support at home service know about John’s predicament. And the very next day after his discharge, they were on his doorstep.
Having a laugh
Over the next six weeks, support workers Katie Warren and Catherine Ellis took John on regular days out – to the hairdressers, bank, supermarket and library.
During each of these trips, John, a well-known figure locally, had ample time to catch up with friends and neighbours.
He said: “We had some great banter, and the girls got me up and moving again. They gave me a laugh and helped me get a bit of my spirit back.”
Hope and confidence
John wasn’t the only one who benefited. Support worker Catherine said: “It’s so rewarding to think that just a little effort from me made such a huge difference to John’s independence.
“I hope his story will inspire more people to volunteer. It’s so flexible and, as John proves, just a few hours a week can still help someone completely turn their lives around.”
John said: “If you’re left on your own, sitting in the house, things can deteriorate quickly.
“It may sound silly to say that two ladies coming round to take you out shopping could change your life – but it really did transform things for me.
“Katie and Catherine made me feel more confident, and gave me the encouragement to get off my bum and do something for myself. They were brilliant and I can’t thank them enough.”
Would you like to help someone in need? Become a support at home volunteer.