A lonely pensioner who put up a poster asking for friends after his wife died has been inundated with thousands of calls and emails from people who want to be his pal.
Tony Williams received so many emails they crashed his inbox. He’s also had hundreds of phone calls from new friends around the world.
People from America, Germany, Holland, Australia, Egypt, India, and Japan have been in touch inviting him on road trips to the U.S. or for an afternoon drinking gin and tonics.
Others have offered Tony, a retired 75-year-old physicist, lunches, phone calls, and for their kids to adopt him as a grandfather.
Tony, from Alton in England’s East Hampshire, said, “The love and compassion people have shown has actually brought tears to my eyes. People have sent me the most delightful emails.
“They’ve sent me pictures of their kids, their pets, told me about their aspirations and telling me they are thinking of me.
“I got an email from a local teacher asking if children in her class could write me letters. I got in touch with her straight away and said it would be delightful. I would love that.
“People have been phone from Canada and the States. One lady phoned up and said if I get on a plane sometime she would pick me up and show me her area of Florida… It’s just been gorgeous.
“When I started responding they were coming in thick and fast. I would say about four or five a minute.
“The thing is, I can’t respond now, as my email account seems to have crashed. A red message came up saying there was some sort of error and it needs to be reset.”
Tony and late wife Jo moved to Alton last year so Jo could be closer to her sister, Beryl.
But he said he was left without anyone to speak to after his wife Jo, 75, passed away in May, just nine days after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
They were unable to have children and he said he often sat at home willing the phone to ring—”but it never does.” Tony has spoken of feeling “cursed” by loneliness.
Without any family nearby, Tony put two adverts in his local newspaper looking for a friend to chat to, but didn’t get any replies.
In a bid to find a pal to listen to music with, or just chat in the garden, Tony had business cards made to hand out when he went to the supermarket or out for a walk.
He handed out dozens without receiving a call back, so he decided to put a poster up in his window asking for pals.
Now, after spending a summer “waiting for the phone to ring,” Tony has been swamped by the responses.
He is enjoying chatting on the phone to strangers—now friends—from around the world, and plans to meet up with his new pals once Covid restrictions allow.
“I’ve just been completely overwhelmed and am so thankful for it all,” he said.