Jean holding up some of the stories she has typed on her typewriter.

You know that old saying, ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’? Well for 91-year-old Jean, that straw was a typewriter.

When Jean returned to her home in the Yorkshire Dales after a spell in hospital, she felt low and isolated.

So when her beloved typewriter broke too, an already difficult situation became a personal crisis.

“Everything seemed to go wrong for me,” Jean said.

Fortunately, our dedicated volunteers are skilled in all sorts of things – even fixing typewriters it seems.


“Spending time in hospital made me worried about going out on my own so I was confined to home,” Jean explained.

Because of this she was referred to the British Red Cross’ Community Connect scheme.

Funded by Land Rover, this service is designed to help people living in rural areas regain their confidence and independence. It operates across the Yorkshire Moors and Dales.

Through this service Red Cross volunteers were able to help Jean get to appointments, go out on short walks to the shops and complete everyday tasks at home.

But even though she was grateful for the support, Jean was still missing her typewriter.


Jean had been a typist for much of her life and enjoyed spending her retirement writing about her own experiences.

Taking inspiration from the book Land Girls, Jean had begun typing up Recollections – a 5,000 word memoir from her time in the Women’s Land Army during the Second World War. This all came to a stop when the typewriter broke.

The loss of her typewriter also affected her ability to communicate with friends and family. Jean finds conversation a little difficult due to a hearing problem.

“I can’t use the telephone and relied on it to write to family and friends,” she explained.

Her family tried to help by sourcing a second-hand typewriter in a charity shop. But the ribbon was broken and Jean couldn’t replace it.

When 25-year-old Jack, a Red Cross staff member, paid Jean a visit, the topic of the broken ribbon came up. Despite knowing very little about typewriters, he offered to help.

After seeking advice from his mum, Jack attempted to replace the ribbon. And a few false starts later the typewriter was working again. Jean was exceedingly pleased.

“I love my typewriter. I’m using it to write about my memories of the happy holidays I spent in Italy, Jerusalem and the Channel Islands,” she said.

“I’m so grateful to the Red Cross for everything they’ve done for me.”


We are currently looking for more volunteers to help transform the lives of people living in rural Yorkshire, just like Jean. Sign up to volunteer with us.