Thursday 27 October 2016

Lonely 95-year-old man becomes internet hit after radio show invite

Published 22/10/2015 | 15:36

BBC presenter Alex Dyke, left, and Bill Palmer after the pensioner called a phone-in show to say how lonely he is (BBC/PA Wire)
BBC presenter Alex Dyke, left, and Bill Palmer after the pensioner called a phone-in show to say how lonely he is (BBC/PA Wire)

A 95-year-old man who called a radio phone-in to say how lonely he was has become an internet hit after the DJ invited him to join the show for a cup of tea.

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Bill Palmer, from Southampton, Hampshire, called the Alex Dyke show on BBC Radio Solent for a show about loneliness.

He described how his wife, Sheila, 85, - who has dementia and colitis - had fallen and was taken to hospital before she was moved to a nursing home where she now lives.

The pensioner, who married his wife last year after they had been friends for 30 years, told the show he visited his wife every day but said: "Every day is hell. I feel so alone."

Dyke immediately arranged for a taxi to bring Mr Palmer into the studio for a chat.

And now Mr Palmer's call has been viewed 41,000 times on the station's Facebook page and he has been inundated with offers by listeners ranging from Sunday lunch to a private concert by a ukulele orchestra.

Mr Palmer said: "I can't believe it. I just sit and listen to the radio and watch TV and have lots of friends, but unfortunately when you get old people don't visit - that's life."

Dyke said Mr Palmer had "touched the hearts of thousands of listeners" and it was his "nicest moment in 30 years of broadcasting".

Dyke was suspended earlier this year but later reinstated after he said on-air that women should not breastfeed in public as it was a "throwback to the stone age".

One listener, Jo Smith, wrote on Facebook: "Bless Bill, I would love to bake him a cake. Alex that was sooo lovely of you to invite him on to your show ... You are a true gent too Alex, thank you x".

The call-in show was part of a series across BBC local radio called "Love Later in Life".

Dyke said: "All this week on the show we've been talking about 'Love Later in Life', about companionship as you get older.

"When Bill called up to say he was lonely, I realised that it's not just about finding Mr or Mrs Right, it's about loving people around you, especially those who might be lonely.

"I've been on the radio for 30 years and met many famous people but meeting Bill was the nicest moment of my career.

"Yesterday showed the passion people have for local radio and the unique position we are in to connect with our audience."

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