Kathleen Kelly and Dave: Celebrating A Special Neighbour

In our People Are Amazing series, we seek out great stories from the people who make and receive our books, applying just a little bit of word wizardry and beautiful illustration to bring them to life.

We print out and send over a poster of their original design, and publish their story right here in this blog. Because everyone deserves to have a book written about them… or at least a blog post.

Kathleen Kelly and Dave have the sort of neighbourly relationship that, in a world of instant messaging and digital friend counts, can often feel like a thing of the past.

At the end of another day most of us rush home to relax on the sofa and watch some TV. We know our neighbours in passing if at all. But Kathleen and Dave are an inspiring example.

Make the effort to get to know the people on your street and you might just find yourself becoming friends with some wonderful characters.

In the words of Kathleen, “People today are a bit more insular than before, very busy and don’t always have time to associate with those around them.”

Not Kathleen though, a self confessed “natural talker” who works as a chiropodist, she understands the importance of taking the time to get to know people as well as treating them with kindness. It didn’t take her long after moving into the area to get to know Dave and go from being neighbours to having a firm friendship with this 90 year old local character.

A friendship that has subsequently seen Kathleen and her husband don waterproofs and walking boots to help bale out Dave’s flooded garage after a torrential downpour. Wading through cold rainwater isn’t the sort of thing people would necessarily do for just any neighbour.

And, returning the favour, Dave and his wife Margaret keep an eye out for Kathleen’s post when her family goes away on their summer holidays.

No awkwardly polite British nod and mumbled “Hello” over the garden fence for Kathleen and Dave. They greet each other with “a big hug and kiss.” In fact, Kathleen’s husband jokingly refers to Dave as her “other boyfriend”.

In December 2016, Dave celebrated turning 90. Most people would see that as a very good excuse to start taking things a little easier than they have for the previous 89 years.

Dave, however, is the very definition of being young at heart.

A keen golfer, Dave still regularly plays a round or two with his son. And this isn’t a leisurely stroll around the course with the odd bit of putting thrown in.

To stay at the top of his game for these father/son matchups Dave practices with the dedication of a pro. When she looks outside in the summer months Kathleen can often see Dave in his front garden perfecting his swing.

Like any athlete worth their salt in 2017 Dave’s training regime doesn’t stop at the 18th hole. Dave knows that a key part of staying in shape is using the latest technology. That’s why he wears a Fitbit when he heads out walking.

Kathleen says it tickles him to think that something he wears on his wrist “connects to a satellite in the sky” and can tell him how far he’s walked and how hard his ambling workout has been.

Dave’s also the traveling type. In order to attend his nephew’s wedding, Dave got behind the wheel and drove the 350 miles from his home in the West Midlands to St Andrew’s in Scotland!

Margaret is 87 herself and doesn’t always feel like accompanying her husband on his latest adventures. Unperturbed Dave thinks nothing of heading out solo for up to a week exploring the country by riding the rails.

As the host of the local bridge club and a man with, in Kathleen’s words, “a better social life than me!”, Dave is never short of friends to regale with tales of his travels.

When asked what the secret was to getting to know the people who share your street Kathleen’s advice was simple.

“Time is our most precious gift and it’s the best thing you can give to those that need it. Time for a friend with a problem, a sick relative or in my case my patients.”

So let’s all give it a go! After all, you might find that you have your very own Dave a few doors down.

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