Sainsbury's worker comes to Crayford pensioner's rescue after he fails to come to superstore for three weeks
PUBLISHED: 10:19 20 March 2014 | UPDATED: 10:19 20 March 2014
Each day John Simmonds would make the near hour-long walk from his Perry Street home to Sainsbury's in Stadium Way to do a shop and eat at the in-store restaurant.
Each day John Simmonds would make the near hour-long walk from his Crayford home to Sainsbury’s in Stadium Way to do a shop and eat at the in-store restaurant.
The 89-year-old war veteran’s daily trip made him a familiar, friendly presence amongst the staff, and, in particular, to Lorraine George, 56, who worked in the Sainsbury’s restaurant, Cafe Fresh.
Yet, Ms George became concerned when Mr Simmonds, of Claremont Crescent, failed to show for three weeks.
“He was coming to the store for about a year,” explained Ms George. “But when I was on holiday and I came back I asked “where is John?”, I was told he had not come in.”
Ms George, of Larkswood Close, Slade Green, had built a rapport with the Sainsbury’s customer after Mr Simmonds started showing up twice-a-day at Cafe Fresh, forgetting he had already eaten his favourite dinner of sausages, mash potato and carrots.
“He has the early stages of dementia,” said Ms George. “I knew where he lived so I went round to his house.
“When I knocked on his door he was not answering. I was banging on it and eventually he answered. He was a mess, he had grown a beard and he looked like Father Christmas.
“I offered him help and he accepted - but he is a proud man.”
Ms George said the visit - albeit timely - was “sad”. Mr Simmonds’s fridge was empty bar “a bit of mouldy cheese”.
“It choked me up - it was not nice to see him like he was. He had no one and he had never had any children.”
Mr Simmonds’ wife and sister both live in care homes.
Ms George rang Age Concern to make sure a GP visited him. Her store manager Rob Johnson gave the grandmother-of-two permission to stock Mr Simmonds’s fridge with groceries free of charge.
“I got him loads of stuff, easy stuff to cook. I got him cheese, ham, coffee and I got him a hot dinner from Cafe Fresh.
“I got him some microwave meals but unfortunately he does not know how to use his microwave so I am just trying to teach him to use that.”
Ms George says she is doing what all elderly people “need and deserve”.
Mr Simmonds is certainly grateful for Ms George’s efforts in ensuring he was still looking after himself.
“She has done extremely well,” he smiled. “Very well.”
It is clear despite his own recent brush with ill health Mr Simmonds has retained his humour.
“I walk from Claremont Crescent - it takes me five to 10 minutes,” he joked. “I quite enjoy it. A bit of exercise does me good.”
Stretching his legs is clearly not the only positive influence now in John’s life.