Friendship blooms in dark times

By Morgan Dyer

They say you're never too old to make new friends.

And that’s exactly what 94-year-old Shepparton resident Yvonne Austin and Greater Shepparton City Councillor Kim O’Keeffe have discovered in recent months.

Ms O’Keeffe stumbled across Yvonne by chance when she was visiting a neighbour, and the pair instantly hit it off.

Ms O’Keeffe said the pair had been getting up to lots of mischief in recent months.

“Her son was visiting from out of town and I said hello and we had a chat,” Ms O'Keeffe said.

“Hearing Yvonne was living alone, I left him my phone number to pass on to Yvonne so she could contact me if she needed anything.

“I heard from Yvonne about a week later and we have since become great friends and I love the time we spend together,” she said.

The friendship came at a perfect time as the women have helped each other mentally and physically throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“She doesn’t have any family in Shepparton, so I have been helping her by doing her groceries and other jobs she needs doing,” Ms O’Keeffe said.

“With my council duties reduced it has also given me a sense of purpose.

“She is truly amazing for her age and still drives and cooks her meals.

“I am truly the winner here because I have met a beautiful lady who really is an inspiration to me.”

Ms O’Keeffe hoped sharing her story would encourage other people to check in on some other vulnerable locals.

Ms O'Keeffe said something so simple could be a life-changing experience.

“She has the best sense of humour and we love our time together — we dance, we sing, we laugh together,” Ms O’Keeffe said.

“Out of a bad situation this beautiful friendship has evolved, and it has really changed my life.

“Hopefully there are other similar stories out there.”

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